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North Korean Nuclear Tests Cause for Grave Concerns

North_korea_2016_purported_warhead.jpg
KCNA
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Wikimedia
More details Kim Jong Un, with what North Korea claims is a miniaturized silver spherical nuclear bomb, at a missile factory in early 2016.

When North Korea reportedly tested a nuclear weapon late last week it was, literally, an earth shaking event. Seismologists in the United States were able to detect the manmade earthquake from the blast.

It was also metaphorically earth shaking news, especially for people in other Pacific Rim nations such as Japan and South Korea. Lake Effect foreign policy contributor, Art Cyr, says this is a major development in part because this is the largest warhead that North Korea has detonated. 

"They're also, slowly, fitfully but surely developing more competent and reliable missile capability for long-range delivery," says Cyr. "Not to the United States, as far as we know, but certainly to Japan, as well as South Korea. It is worrisome." 

512px-North_Korean_missile_range.jpg
Credit Cmglee / Wikimedia
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Wikimedia
Estimated maximum range of some North Korean missiles.

North Korea's intent on developing nuclear weaponry is hardly new, but the most recent test has many worried about the regime's next steps. The United States is pushing for harsher sanctions on the country, having already refused to resume negotiations with North Korea until the country agrees to denuclearization. 

It's unclear what North Korea hopes to gain from these tests, and Cyr says that it's unlikely the country is trying to incite a war. "They want respect, they want aid; probably respect above all," he says. Part of it could even be advertising, so to speak, since North Korea is heavily involved in the black market economy. 

"You name the kind of conventional weapon, also drugs, bootleg liquor, counterfeit currency, prostitution; you name the ugly trade, and North Korea seems to be heavily in it and they need that income," says Cyr. "So logically it's understandable that they would take the next step into nuclear fuel that could be processed or even nuclear weapons." 

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Arthur I. Cyr is Director of the Clausen Center for World Business and Clausen Distinguished Professor at Carthage College in Kenosha. Previously he was President of the Chicago World Trade Center, the Vice President of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, a faculty member and executive at UCLA, and an executive at the Ford Foundation. His publications include the book After the Cold War - American Foreign Policy, Europe and Asia (Macmillan and NYU Press).