North Korea's latest nuclear weapons test was not unexpected, after weeks of bellicose talk, but it is deeply worrying and destabilizing for peace in the region. It highlights not only the risks to peace posed by the isolated Stalinist state but those of nuclear proliferation. North Korea's development of nuclear warheads and of rocket technology shows that such advances are becoming easier; it also has an alliance of sorts with Iran. The problem is how to respond to the latest development.
North Korea is already subject to strict sanctions, which have little effect given its commitment to economic autarchy and its regime's willingness to impose dire conditions on its people.
Even previous thaws in relations, where the United States bargained food aid for talks, never led to actual disarmament.
The only real chance for change is if China, its main ally, can be persuaded to take a harder line. Beijing has been outraged by Pyongyang's provocative behavior and has condemned the latest test but it fears instability if there were a challenge to the regime. Yet having a neighbor this dangerous and unpredictable is hardly in China's interests: it must try to rein in this rogue state.
London Evening Standard