Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don't Panic!: Why is North Korea testing nukes?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 5:12 PM

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What does North Korea hope to gain by testing nuclear weapons?

On May 25, North Korea flipped a radioactive bird at President Barack Obama when it exploded a nuclear device in an underground facility in the northeast part of the country.

The test site was not far from the spot where, in 2006, North Korea exploded a similarly frightening gizmo, described at the time by the Bush administration as a "nookyullar" device. North Korea is thought to be the only country on Earth to possess both a nuclear and a nookyullar device.

You may have noticed I’m using the word device rather than weapon to describe these North Korean explosive thingies. That’s because I was just listening to Selig Harrison, former Washington Post Northeast Asia bureau chief and current head of the Center for International Policy’s Asia Program, speaking on my favorite news radio show, KCRW-FM’s “To The Point.” (Yes, that was a shameless attempt to earn a KCRW tote bag.)

Harrison says there’s no evidence to suggest North Korea has the technical know-how to fire a nuclear device at anyone. Exploding a weapon underground in what essentially is a laboratory is very different from miniaturizing a weapon and mounting it atop a missile.

I’m not saying don’t be scared of North Korea. I’m just saying you should know precisely what it is you might be scared of.

(Read the rest, please)

(Photo illustration by Andisheh Nouraee)

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