Santaro Rey
The Asia Times Online
May 26, 2009

North Korea’s decision to carry out its second nuclear test on Monday could have far-reaching consequences, if South Korea and Japan conclude that nothing can be done to persuade Pyongyang to denuclearize. Under such circumstances, developing their own nuclear weapons might become increasingly desirable for Seoul and Tokyo.

[efoods]North Korea shook the world – literally – in the early hours of May 25, carrying out its second nuclear test, at a site in the northeast of the country. Significantly, the latest detonation was much more powerful than its first nuclear test, carried out on October 9, 2006, which was widely believed to have fizzled. The Russian military and the South’s Defense Ministry estimated Monday’s blast to have yielded 20 kilotons, or roughly the same as the American atomic bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki at the end of World War II in 1945.

That North Korea decided to conduct a second nuclear test was not surprising. Pyongyang’s official media had been warning since April 29 that it might conduct a test, as an expression of its displeasure at the United Nations Security Council’s criticism of its failed satellite launch (in reality a test of its long-range Taepodong 2 missile) on April 5. Nonetheless, the test came sooner than expected, and unlike its predecessor, Pyongyang did not provide official advance notice in its state-controlled media.

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