The KCNA warned that the North would take actions stronger than a nuclear test to deal with hostile forces’ moves toward nuclear war, which are gradually growing more brazen. Or something like that.
What those actions might be, North Korea did not say.
Meanwhile, the JoongAng Ilbo’s TV crew went to the top of Aegibong Peak—the annual site of the world’s most dangerous Christmas tree—to shoot some video footage of a snow-covered North Korean village on the other side of the DMZ. It’s an even bigger shit hole than Haebangchon, to be sure, but it’s pretty quiet. The JoongAng describes it as “the calm before the storm.”
And then there’s Iran. Experts on North Korea’s economy say it’s beyond North Korea’s economic capacity to conduct two rocket launches (estimated cost: US$1 billion) and a nuke test within a single year. Or so says the Kyunghyang Shinmun. A diplomatic source in Washington told the paper he believes the North is getting outside financial help from Iran, which reportedly sent specialists to the rocket launch and has men pertinently stationed in the North. In fact, American missile experts think the Unha 3’s third stage was the same as Iran’s Safir rocket.
Anyway, this source thinks Iran gives North Korea the cash, and North Korea conducts the tests and shares the data. This seems to be what Stanford’s Siegfried Hecker thinks, too:
One of the most damaging results of another test will come from potential cooperation with Iran. Sharing Pyongyang’s nuclear test experience with Tehran similarly to how it has shared missile technologies will greatly increase the Iranian nuclear threat. Iran now has the capacity to enrich uranium to weapons grade, although it has claimed to have enriched it only to lower levels for peaceful purposes. It would be very difficult for Iran to continue its peaceful nuclear façade if it tested to further its nuclear weapons capabilities. However, if Pyongyang were to involve Iran or share its testing experience, that would change the picture dramatically. Should Iran make the decision to build nuclear weapons, it is more likely to do so without necessarily testing its own device.
Oh, and former US Defense Secretary William Perry told Yonhap there needs to be official high-level talks between the United States and the North, and he doesn’t believe a military strike would eliminate North Korea’s nuclear capacity. In 1994, when North Korea’s nuclear facilities were all in one spot, a single strike would have done the job, he said, but not now.