Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

North Korea Sends a Nuclear Note to the World

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

North Korea Sends a Nuclear Note to the World

Article excerpt

North Korea's fifth nuclear test, carried out on Friday, is a sign that the current international approach to the outlaw nation is not working and needs to get "smarter," not "tougher," some experts say.

Nothing world powers are doing appears to be impeding North Korea's march to stronger, smaller nuclear weapons and the missiles capable of carrying them. Friday's test - North Korea's second nuclear test this year - followed a round of toughened sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council earlier this year.

That suggests simply doubling down on more sanctions isn't enough. China will need to be brought in as a bigger part of the solution, and the international community might well have to consider the first direct talks with North Korea since six-party talks collapsed in 2009, says Jim Walsh, an expert on North Korea's nuclear program.

"Sanctions by themselves aren't going to work, this year has proved that," says Dr. Walsh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Security Studies Program. "It has to be sanctions married to a political strategy,"

A return to the negotiating table with Pyongyang realistically would not occur until after President Obama's successor settles into the White House, he adds. But there are things the United States can be doing now, and first among them is working more closely with China to slow North Korea's progress.

"Ninety percent of North Korea's trade is with China, so us simply wagging our finger at them won't work," Walsh says.

China, the North's strongest ally, reacted with tougher language than usual Friday, saying it "resolutely" opposed the test and demanding in a statement that the North "stop making any moves that worsen the situation."

China had already been embarrassed earlier this week when North Korea conducted missile tests as Hangzhou hosted the G20 summit.

The US should be encouraging China to shut down the growing number of channels between private Chinese companies and North Korean entities that have set up shop inside China, Walsh says. …

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