[Datuk Dr Muthiah Alagappa is Tun Hussein Onn Chair in International Studies at ISIS Malaysia and non-resident senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC. He is author-editor of Nuclear Weapons and Security in 21st Century Asia, published by Stanford University Press in 2008. The following article appeared in PacNet #10 as well as on the website of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace on Wednesday, 13 February 2013. –CanKor]
North Korea carried out its third nuclear test on Feb. 13, 2013 after having successfully test-fired its long-range rocket in December 2012. Pyongyang is on its way to developing a nuclear weapon capability that can be delivered at short range and in due course over longer ranges including to the United States, China, and Russia. As expected, the international community has reacted to the test with calls for tighter sanctions and will try to induce North Korea to the long-stalled Six-Party Talks. These are unlikely to succeed.
Though paying a high price, North Korea is intent on developing a strategic nuclear deterrent against present and potential adversaries. The international community must recognize and attempt to integrate a nuclear North Korea into Asia and the world. This may be unpalatable to policymakers who have persisted with a sanction and roll back policy as well as for the bankrupt nonproliferation community. However, there is little else that the international community can do. It can bomb North Korea to oblivion but that carries risks and would serve no substantive political or strategic purpose. Read the rest of this entry »