North Korea's nuclear test sparks UN emergency meeting
Monday's explosion – the latest in a series of hard-line moves by Pyongyang – may have been 20 times more powerful than its last test in 2006.
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Citing South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, the Post reported that North Korea may have also fired a short-range missile into the sea, after the nuclear test.Skip to next paragraph
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A recent Chosun Ilbo article cited US and South Korean diplomats as saying that Pyongyang's recent saber-rattling may be related to internal power struggles and the succession question.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is reportedly in ill health.
After his stroke last year, the question of the succession, for which no preparations had been made, suddenly came to the fore. As a result, it appears that the hardline military seized all the power it could and stoked international tensions to keep society under control.
"Since the appearance of health issues with Kim Jong-Il last year, the North Korean military became more influential," said Cheong Seong-chang, director of Inter-Korean Relations Studies Program at Sejong Institute near Seoul. ...
Cheong said he expected Pyongyang to soon indicate the nuclear test was in some part planned by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader's youngest son and frontrunner to take control of the secretive state.
"The outside world tends to underestimate Kim Jong-un at his young age," he [Cheong] said. "If Kim Jong-un played a decisive role in this nuclear test, it helps spread internally and externally a perception that he is a man of resolution."
In a Q&A posted on its website, the Guardian wrote that there's disagreement on how far North Korea has gotten with its nuclear program. But some now officially consider it one of Asia's nuclear powers.
The Associated Press reported that Asian markets "shrugged off" North Korea's test, with most posting gains Monday.
The region's markets have grown accustomed to such maneuvering by North Korea, said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong.
"For the South Korean market, it's just an excuse for the market to make a correction because markets have shot up too much recently," Yip said. "But I don't see any great impact in other Asian markets."
According to a background report on North Korea's nuclear program by the Federation of American Scientists, tensions have been high since 2002, when the US told North Korea (and North Korea later admitted) that it was aware Pyongyang was enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons.
That nullified the 1994 Agreed Framework, signed by the US and North Korea, under which North Korea was to freeze its nuclear program and allow inspectors, among other measures.