Nicholas Eberstadt writes: It’s really very simple: North Korea is methodically and deliberately preparing to fight and win a limited nuclear war in the Korean peninsula against the USA and her allies. – American Enterprise Institute
Van Jackson writes: Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s approach to developing its strategic forces is markedly different—more aggressive—than it was under his father or grandfather. The striking change puts the Korean Peninsula on a path to nuclear war unless the U.S.-South Korean alliance can adapt to the constraints of deterrence and defense against a second-tier nuclear-armed adversary. – Foreign Affairs
The missile that North Korea test-fired from a submarine off its east coast on Wednesday momentarily brought together three nations that have recently had reasons to squabble. – New York Times
The U.N. Security Council agreed at an emergency meeting late Wednesday to consider issuing a statement on the latest North Korean missile launch. – Associated Press
North Korea marked its “Military First” holiday on Thursday with mass dancing, outdoor concerts and boasts of a successful - and potentially game-changing - submarine-launched ballistic missile test it hopes will serve as a warning to Washington and Seoul to stop holding joint military exercises Pyongyang sees as a dress rehearsal for invasion. – Associated Press
Editorial: The U.S. hasn’t sanctioned a single Chinese entity for helping to arm or otherwise sustain the Pyongyang regime. The U.S., South Korea and Japan are expanding and integrating their regional missile-defense systems. But defenses are a last resort and can’t substitute for a counterproliferation strategy that should seek to cut Kim’s access to sophisticated technologies at their source. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Nuclear Friday. North Korea conducted its fifth underground nuclear test -- and second this year -- on Friday, shrugging off threats of deeper sanctions from the United States and the U.N. in the process. The test demonstrated a “nuclear warhead that has been standardized to be able to be mounted on” its ballistic missiles the North proclaimed in a statement.
The South Korean government confirmed the test on Friday after recording “an unnatural” artificial tremor originating from Punggye-ri, where the North has conductedfour previous tests. Officials in the South and other experts said that the test was the country’s largest to date, sparking worries that the country is making real progress in its efforts to build a functional nuclear warhead.
North testing like never before. The pace and tenor of North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear tests have undergone a “big change” this year, Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation told SitRep. Since February, North Korea has fired off more than 30 ballistic missiles with a range of at least 200 km, “more than the number fired previously by North Korea, ever,” he said via email. “These more extensive tests should allow North Korea to convert its missile force from a strategic threat/showcase to an operational force that seriously jeopardizes all of its neighbors, including China.”
As usual, the international community reacted with outrage. China said it was “firmly opposed” to the test, while Japan "protested adamantly" and U.S. president Barack Obama -- on his way home from his last trip to Asia as president -- warned of "serious consequences.”
More reax. Karl Dewey, an analyst at IHS Jane’s said in a statement that the threat of further sanctions is hardly a deterrent to the regime of Kim Jong Un, as his military “is thought to have a small standing stock of nuclear weapons, with some estimates placing the national inventory around 15-20 weapons. Sanctions will not have affected this stockpile, or the North's ability to test.”
The Center for Naval Analysis recently dropped a new look at efforts to deter the North Korean regime, coming to the conclusion that as Kim Jong-un continues to consolidate his power, South Korea and the United States “should expect that provocations will continue to be a part of North Korea’s strategy.”
China responded Monday to calls that it needs to do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear program by saying that American officials were truly to blame for inciting conflict on the Korean Peninsula. – Associated Press
The Rason Special Economic Zone, a North Korean experiment in limited capitalism, isn’t likely the next-big-thing-in-Asia that officials here paint it to be. But even as the country is hunkering down under the toughest U.N.-backed sanctions in decades for its nuclear and long-range missile programs, it is, by North Korean standards, thriving. – Associated Press
Michael O’Hanlon writes: The United States and other countries should keep its same goal of North Korean denuclearization, the complete and verifiable elimination of its existing arsenal of perhaps 10 to 12 bombs (maybe more), as the only way for Pyongyang to gain a lifting of sanctions and greater economic aid in the future. But we also need a shorter-term and more pragmatic approach that would seek to freeze North Korea's progress. – USA Today