Viewpoints: North Korea Tests Nuclear Bomb

Kim Jong-Un watches over Pyongyang, North Korea. (Photo: NViktor)

Leader Kim Jong-Un praised North Korea's hydrogen bomb test on Jan. 6 as a "spectacular success," though the test is disputed by the rest of the world. Jong-Un vowed to press ahead with further tests even in the face of the United States flying a nuclear-capable bomber near North Korea's border. The test has increased tensions between North Korea and the United States, China and South Korea, which it was of course intended to do. Not only is such a threat meant to bolster the young leader's domestic support, it may also be a way to instigate conflict between the United States and China, by pushing the United States to strengthen its alliance with South Korea and Japan. North Korea's actions, however, are erratic and open for interpretation. presents a sampling of the press coverage of the event from around the world.

China – Xinhua, Jan. 6: China firmly opposes the latest nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), according to a statement on Wednesday from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. "China is steadfast in its position that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearized and nuclear proliferation should be prevented to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced at a press briefing. "We strongly urge the DPRK to honor its commitment to denuclearization, and to cease any action that may deteriorate the situation," Hua said.

South Korea – Chosun Ilbo, Jan. 9: South Korea needs the courage to persuade the North that it is willing to strike at the source of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Showing that the president is unfazed by North Korean threats is the most effective start to finding a solution. But the public must also stand firm. Nobody wants tensions to escalate, but Pyongyang has always used its threats to ferment conflict within South Korea in order to get what it wants. So if a clash occurs there may be casualties. Of course the North would want the South Korean public to blame its own government for such losses, but all South Koreans must refuse to fall into that trap.

CanadaThe Globe and Mail, Jan. 8: South Korea unleashed a high-decibel propaganda barrage across its border with North Korea on Friday in retaliation for its nuclear test. …The broadcasts, in rolling bursts from walls of loudspeakers at 11 locations along the heavily militarized border, blared rhetoric critical of the Pyongyang regime as well as "K-pop" music, ratcheting up tension between the rival Koreas. North Korea later responded with its own broadcasts. …The South Korean broadcasts are considered an insult by the isolated North, which has in the past threatened military strikes to stop them. The last time South Korea deployed the loudspeakers, in retaliation for a landmine blast in August that wounded two South Korean soldiers, it led to an armed standoff and exchange of artillery fire. The sound from the speakers can carry for 10 km into North Korea during the day and more than twice that at night.

United Kingdom – New Focus International, Aug. 16: Mobilization for political events happens according to an annual calendar, and includes the dates of births and deaths in the Kim family, days such as New Year, holidays, Founding of the Party and other anniversaries of events. Prior to these events, each People's Unit (inminban—these correspond to inhabitants of each residential area or apartment block) must practice slogans and songs with other members of their Unit. After going through rehearsals, they are mobilized for the actual event by political committees.

Russia – Pravda, Jan. 6: Many Chinese people could feel the consequences of the tests of the North Korean hydrogen bomb. The test triggered an earthquake in China. Residents of several Chinese settlements had to be urgently evacuated. The magnitude of the earthquake [registered] 5.1 on the Richter scale. "The North Korean nuclear program is being implemented by the state that shares a common border with Russia. The distance between Pyongyang and Vladivostok is less than 700 kilometers. Any actions of the DPRK in this area directly affect the national security of our country," the head of the International Committee of Russia's Federation Council, Konstantin Kosachev said. 

Indonesia – Antara News, Jan. 7: Four sets of U.N. sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006. … Experts and diplomats agree that sanctions have a limited effect and are only one tool in the broader international effort to help North Korea strip away its pariah status. …"Really the elephant in the room is China and what it is willing to do unilaterally as well as in the U.N.," said Roberta Cohen, a North Korea expert at the Brookings think tank in Washington.

PakistanDawn, Jan. 6: India, Pakistan and North Korea are considered de-facto nuclear powers, but it will be even more worrying for the U.S. if they really have detonated an H-bomb. … One political analyst Dawn spoke to even said that this test may provide India the impetus to test its own H-bomb, which it has claimed to have developed. … Analyst Imtiaz Gul was of the opinion that North Korea was an isolated country and its status could not be compared with that of Pakistan, India or even Iran. Iran's case is different from North Korea's because it is not as isolated as the latter, Gul said, adding, "At the same time, the U.S. does not know what to do with North Korea because nobody knows what North Korea wants."