North Korea’s Nuclear Tantrum

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is no stranger to brinkmanship but his latest series of actions is qualitatively different. With North Korea’s second underground nuclear test conducted on May 25, and simultaneous test-firing of a series of short-range missiles in the direction of Japan over the following two days, Kim seems to be betting all his chips to get direct dialogue with the US. His failing health and uncertain succession may have added urgency to his drive to get US recognition as a nuclear power and to leave a stable legacy. He may soon discover that he has seriously miscalculated; instead of frightening the US and its South Korean and Japanese allies into a new round of talks, his gamble has pushed them into an even stronger resolve against the North’s proliferation drive.

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