It is already a nuclear state, of course. It has the technology to hit Seoul with a short-range missile or put a nuclear device into the back of a truck and drive it across the Korean Demilitarised Zone.
But only a long-range nuclear weapon will satisfy the increasingly unpredictable and paranoid Kim Jong-Un.
To achieve its aims, the country’s scientists must work out how to build an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and then miniaturise a nuclear warhead to fit onto it. So far, to the relief of everyone else, it has managed neither of those milestones.
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An ICBM travels into orbit and then re-enters Earth’s atmosphere before hitting its target. The most recent test earlier this year, disguised as a “Space Launch Vehicle” managed the first bit but failed re-entry. That is the complex bit.
Friday’s test will probably turn out to be a step forward in that process.
The only relief is that North Korea is probably still five to 10 years away from developing this desired weapon – the international community has time on its side, but it is running out.
Rather than slowing its nuclear programme, if anything heavy sanctions have strengthened Pyongyang’s determination to develop this weapon.
North Korea fears it is facing an imminent invasion from South Korea and the United States.
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This is a myth, of course, but it plays into the fear and paranoia that the regime likes to spread amongst its people.
Ironically, this latest test brings international military action closer, if anything, as nearby countries scratch their head for a decisive response.
But North Korea also wants to be heard. Like a desperate schoolboy jumping up and down, waving his arms at the back of the classroom, Pyongyang hates to be ignored.
So maybe that should be the next step – dialogue. It has been tried before, unsuccessfully, but it eventually worked with Iran and it is infinitely preferable to military action.
In my opinion, it is now time for all sides to start talking again.
News Source SkyNews