By Seema Guha
North Korea’s maverick leader, the youthful Kim Jong-un has sent the world into a tailspin by conducting a successful nuclear test. Today’s underground test is much more sophisticated than the last one in 2013 and is said to be a Hydrogen bomb. But at the moment it is too early to confirm Pyongyong’s claims of a H-bomb, which if true has much more potential to destroy than an atomic device. But one thing is clear, that this particular test is not a rudimentary one like the ones before.
Kim Jong-un, the authoritarian leader of one of the world’s most isolated and secretive regimes is aiming at consolidating his domestic popularity by unleashing an unprecedented nationalist fervor at a time when North Koreans have little cause to celebrate. Kim Jong-un came out with a triumphant statement after the test.
"Let's begin the year of 2016 -- a glorious and victorious year when the historic seventh conference of the Workers' Party of Korea will be held -- with a thrilling sound of the first hydrogen bomb explosion, so that the whole world will look up to our socialist, nuclear-armed republic of Juche and the great Workers' Party of Korea!"
North Korean calculation
Former Indian ambassador to Seoul, ambassador Skand Dayal, who had watched developments in North Korea from a vantage point, said he was not surprised by the test as the leadership is committed to safeguard its interest by developing nuclear weapons.
"They believe that nuclear weapons are an insurance against punitive action by the US and its allies. They have seen what has happened to unfriendly regimes like Saddam Hussain in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and believe that the West will hesitate before attacking a nuclear armed nation. Today’s test is just another step in that direction," said Dayal. He also pointed to North Korea’s attempts to develop the inter-continental ballistic missile to hit the American mainland. "These efforts have been on for quite sometime, nothing unusual." Reports of North Korea testing these missiles in December are also coming in. "North Korea’s actions have to be understood in the context of their own calculations," he explained.
UNSC Emergency meet can achieve little
The North Korean test has led to anxiety across the world. The UNSC will have an emergency meeting late Wednesday to take stock of the situation. But there is little leverage that the world has on North Korea. The nation has been under sanctions for several decades. It has a closed state run economy and very little international exposure. Its
only friends are China and Pakistan. Unless China decides on sanctions, which it will not, fresh sanctions will have little affect on the regime. Instead the revival of six nation talks are more likely.
British foreign secretary Philip Hammond, currently on a visit to China has hinted at an early resumption of dialogue. China will offer to facilitate revival of dialogue. "No one expects China to agree to harsh measures against North Korea. Condemning Pyongyang is one thing, but it is expected to bat for its friend in the UNSC," said Rakesh Sood, a former diplomat and an expert on nuclear issues.
China, has criticised the test. It is a major embarrassment for Beijing, now in the big league and wanting to act the responsible world power not to have been able to stop North Korea. China had been advising Pyongyang not to go ahead with its nuclear ambitions.
However it does not seem to have made much of a difference. Despite this Beijing is not likely to abandon Pyongyang.
South Korea called it a "grave provocation". Tokyo see’s the test as a "major threat" to its security. Japan’s cabinet secretary has called for a meeting to review the situation. Such provocation by North Korea will help Japan’s nationalist Prime Minister Shino Abe accelerate the pace of making Japan a normal power. He has already amended clauses of Japan’s Constitution to make its defence forces give up the nations pacifist policy which had been in place since its defeat in World War II. The move which did not have all around support among Japanese citizens. Now with North Korea’s test, more and more Japanese may come round to Abe’s views. What is more, those pushing for a nuclear armed Japan may not use the North Korean threat to push their agenda for going nuclear.
India dubbed the test a "matter of grave concern" and said that North Korea has acted "in violation of its international commitments in this regard." New Delhi’s relations with Pyongyang can at best be termed as lukewarm. It remains engaged and sends out humanitarian aid in times of crisis. North Korea’s Foreign Minster Ri Su Yong was in India last August on a rare visit. He met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and called on Vice President Hamid Ansari.
India’s ties with North Korea can best be described as lukewarm, which is why the visit raised a few eyebrows. Swaraj raised India’s security concerns with the visitor. ends Pakistan is a firm friend of the North Korean regime. In the past it received missile technology from Pyongyang. In exchange, Pakistani scientist AQ Khan passed on the designs of centrifugal rings for nuclear plants.