North Korean Nuclear Weapons Test Reported

by Christopher Le Mon

The Associated Press has just reported a North Korean announcement that the country successfully performed its first test of a nuclear weapon yesterday evening EDT. Neither the United States, South Korea, nor Japan have officially confirmed that the test did indeed occur. However, statements by South Korean intelligence officials and an official South Korean seismic monitoring center that a seismic tremor measuring between 3.5 and 3.7 on the Richter scale and originating from North Korea at the same time that North Korea states the test took place, seem to indicate that the test was in fact carried out.

Ban Ki-Moon, the South Korean whose confirmation as the next Secretary-General of the United Nations is expected today, stated that he would visit North Korea “as soon as I get the chance.” Given his deep involvement in the Six-Party Talks aimed at ensuring North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, his selection as Secretary-General perhaps indicates closer alignment on this issue between the United States and China than had been previously thought. (Indeed, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement read on state television said in no unclear terms that “China resolutely opposes the North Korean nuclear test.”) Ban’s role in addressing these developments will be a difficult test facing him as soon as he takes office.

I’ll post again shortly on the international law issues involved in this.

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