North Korea tested its most powerful nuclear weapon to date over the weekend, threatening to overshadow China’s BRICS Summit and Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum, and also prompting a flurry of American military threats against Pyongyang. The BRICS nations took umbrage to what happened and harshly condemned North Korea in their joint Xiamen Declaration, remarking in Article 44 that they – quote – “strongly deplore the nuclear test” – unquote – and President Putin said during a speech in Vladivostok soon afterwards that Russia does not recognize the country’s nuclear status.
The US, Japan, and South Korea, as could have been expected, were furious, and the Trump Administration said in an ominous statement that North Korea is – quote – “begging for war” – unquote, in what most observers recognized as a clearly implied threat. It didn’t help any either that North Korea later said that it would deliver a “gift package” to the US, which was obviously interpreted by many as a chest-thumping threat to nuke the American mainland. In response to all of this, South Korea is enhancing its ballistic missile capabilities and there’s speculation that it and Japan might even be considering their own nuclear weapons programs.
The international community is divided over what to do to North Korea, with Russia and China advocating their joint proposal for the US and South Korea to freeze their provocative wargames if North Korea puts its nuclear program on hold, while the US and some of its allies want to implement tighter sanctions against North Korea and possibly even launch a military strike against it. There’s no doubt that North Korea’s H-Bomb test led to a lot of hyped-up reactions from its own representatives and those of its traditional adversaries, but the question on everyone’s mind is whether an inflection point has finally been reached in this crisis, or if it’s just going to go the way of every other one before it and eventually fizzle out into a preservation of the status quo.
Andrew Korybko is joined by Haneul Na'avi, contributing writer on political economy and geopolitics for The Duran and co-host for WGDR's The Green Mountain Report and Syed Ali Zia Jaffery, research analyst at the Global Village Space who focuses on nuclear security and strategic issues.
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