North Korea conducts third nuclear test

It started out, as they all do, as a seismic event in the northern end of the Korean Peninsula.  It didn’t take long for Pyongyang to confirm what everyone suspected — that North Korea had conducted a third nuclear-weapon test, apparently successful.  The type tested has serious strategic implications, too:

North Korea on Tuesday conducted an underground explosion of what it called a “miniaturized” nuclear weapon, testing a technology that could theoretically be paired with a long-range missile to threaten the United States.

Pyongyang confirmed the test nearly three hours after unusual seismic activity was detected near the secretive police state’s mountainous test site. The test follows weeks of threats from the North to build up its nuclear capacity and carry out an “all-out action of high intensity.” …

The U.S. Geological Survey detected a 4.9-magnitude tremor at 11:58 a.m. local time in North Korea.

The test is the first under new North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun and the clearest sign that the third-generation leader, like his father and grandfather, prefers to confront the United States and its allies rather than make peace with them.

The UN had already called an emergency meeting of the Security Council to address the pending test.  Afterward, even Pyongyang ally China publicly condemned the actions of Kim Jong-un’s regime:

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday in defiance of existing U.N. resolutions, drawing condemnation from around the world, including from its only major ally, China, which summoned the North Korean ambassador to protest.

The reclusive North said the test was an act of self-defense against “U.S. hostility” and threatened further, stronger steps if necessary. …

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said China was “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to the test and urged North Korea to “stop any rhetoric or acts that could worsen situations and return to the right course of dialogue and consultation as soon as possible”.

Consider the Kim regime unmoved by China’s scolding, probably because they know China won’t do anything more than waggle its finger at Pyongyang.  North Korea issued a defiant threat of escalating actions after the test:

The test “was only the first response we took with maximum restraint”, an unnamed spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry, which acts as Pyongyang’s official voice to the outside world, said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

“If the United States continues to come out with hostility and complicates the situation, we will be forced to take stronger, second and third responses in consecutive steps.” …

North Korea told the U.N. disarmament forum in Geneva that it would never bow to resolutions on its nuclear program and that prospects were “gloomy” for the denuclearization of the divided Korean peninsula because of a “hostile” U.S. policy.

Stars and Stripes explains the significance of this particular test, outside of the bellicosity surrounding it:

North Korea carried out its third — and most powerful — nuclear test Tuesday, ratcheting up concerns about technological advancements by a renegade country that has said it wants to be able to strike at the United States.

Pyongyang said this bomb was also its smallest and lightest, a claim that experts will be trying to verify. They have said the country would need to make advancements in miniaturization in order to fit a bomb  atop a long-range ballistic missile — the type of rocket that it successfully tested two months ago when it put a satellite into orbit.

So now the Kim regime is either very close to having ballistic nuclear capability or has achieved it.  Their ballistic missile range includes Japan, and potentially Hawaii and Alaska, and perhaps the West Coast of the US. That is indeed a game changer, especially since it seems clear that Kim and his clique want a war, and so far even its one ally can’t dissuade them from provoking one.