Anna Fifield reports: North Korea has taken to the streets and to the propaganda sheets this week to celebrate its latest nuclear test, the huge explosion of what it says was a hydrogen bomb that can be attached to a missile.
With that test, and the recent demonstrations of great leaps in its missile technology, North Korea either now has a deliverable nuclear arsenal or is on the brink of having one. It is no longer a matter of if.
The few lingering questions about the country’s capability may be answered as soon as this weekend. South Korea’s intelligence service reported Tuesday that it had seen signs of preparations to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile that can theoretically reach well into the continental United States.
If history is anything to go by, the timing seems right. North Korea likes to stage provocations on significant dates, and on Saturday the regime celebrates its foundation as a state. On Sept. 9 last year, it marked the occasion with a nuclear test.
But amid the many questions about North Korea’s nuclear program, one is often overlooked: Why? Why is Kim Jong Un so hellbent on joining the nuclear club?
The regime answered that question in its own way Tuesday when its state media reported how regular people and mid-level bureaucrats felt about the nuclear test.
“It is the best way to respond with powerful nuclear deterrent to the U.S. imperialists who are violent toward the weak and subservient to the strong,” Kim Chang Sok, a department director of the Ministry of Coal Industry, was quoted as saying, in words that sounded suspiciously like they came straight from the propaganda machine.
North Korea as a state was formed at the end of World War II, when the Soviet Union and the United States drew a line across the peninsula as a “temporary measure.”
But it was solidified during the Korean War, a brutal conflict in which the U.S. Air Force leveled the North, to the extent that American generals complained there was nothing left to bomb.
Ever since, North Korea has existed in a state of insecurity, with the totalitarian regime telling the population that the United States is out to destroy them — again. [Continue reading…]