When Outlaws Get The Bomb

The tremor out of the far north of the People's Democratic Republic of Korea was unremarkable. It registered a magnitude 4.2, a light earthquake. Its significance had to be declared by its perpetrator, the unpredictable regime of Kim Jong Il. North Korea, one of the poorest and most hermetic nations on earth, was claiming a successful underground nuclear bomb test and entry into the once exclusive club of nuclear powers as member No. 9. "More fizzle than pop," said a U.S. intelligence source dismissively, though he conceded the blast was likely to have been nuclear. A sniffer plane would later pick up hints of radiation in the atmosphere. Days of diplomatic consternation ensued at Pyongyang's announcement, and after stops and starts, the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea, demanding that it dismantle its nuclear-arms program. It also banned the sale of conventional weaponry and luxury goods to the country. Pointing at Washington as its nemesis, Pyongyang said any increased American military pressure would be deemed a declaration of war.


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