North Korea maintains readiness for nuclear test at any time: South Korea

But North Korea has also celebrated successes in the program, which it sees as the key to maintaining its autonomy and influence against China, the USA, and other powers. These countries present a nuclear reality that the United States thus far has been prepared to live with rather than try to reverse. "North Korea's reckless nuclear tests and missile provocations threaten not only the Korean peninsula but regional and global peace", said Korea's acting president and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn at the conference. And these are no longer up for negotiation. Certainly it is not the quality or quantity of North Korea's nuclear weapons.

The official said: "North Korea is ready to carry out a nuclear test at any time, depending on the leadership's decision". Washington, Seoul and others view the North's space program as a cover for its banned long-range missile development program. And to top that with the instability of its young leader, Kim Jung-un, you're facing a country that feels it has nothing to lose and everything to gain. As Tanaka observes, "the loophole involving border trade with China is essentially an open secret".

But the main concern must be with South Korea and Japan.

Given this, it is not surprising that China has chose to engage in sustained diplomatic coercion to change the South Korean decision.

In late February, Beijing-based diplomats in charge of Sino-North Korean relations looked into that data, which was released by China's General Administration of Customs.

"Our Strategic Force staged a ballistic rocket-launching drill in our own territory to crush the USA escalating nuclear threat and blackmail", Rodong Sinmun said.

To make up for the profits it expected from Beijing, North Korea is publicizing a new tourist cruise program, seeking worldwide investors to develop tours around North Korea's mountainous Kosong port area.

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And third, during his Asian trip in mid-March, Tillerson said, "All options are on the table", hinting at possible USA military action against North Korea.

This is a situation where, in military terms, only deterrence and the continuing assumption that Kim Jong-un is rational advise a "do nothing" approach.

What has not been tried on North Korea is the full-court economic press that was applied to Iran.

"Jeffrey Lewis, a North Korea expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, recalled a 1969 episode in which North Korea shot down a United States Navy plane, killing 31", the Times reported. UNCS Resolution 2231 lifted all punitive measures imposed on Iran, following years of grueling negotiations by Russian Federation, the United States, U.K., France, China and Germany. Polling in South Korea, for example, now puts China's reputation above that of Japan in the "most hated nation" stakes, which is quite an achievement in itself.

After all, China is bearing some of the strategic costs of North Korea's weapons programs. And China has temporarily closed the 55 discount stores owned by the Lotte Group - South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate and the supplier of the land for the THAAD system - for supposed safety violations. Before that, North Korea tested a "saturation attack" - a salvo of four missiles meant to overwhelm United States and allied missile defenses - with much more success. China, North Korea's closest ally and biggest trading partner, banned coal imports from the nation earlier this year.

At a joint press conference in Beijing after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Tillerson refrained from publicly calling on China to tighten sanctions but said that both countries had a "certain sense of urgency" and would work together "to bring North Korea to a different place where we are hopeful we can then begin a dialogue".


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