Update 3: Welcome, Michelle Malkin readers!
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test. The country’s official Korean Central News Agency said the test was performed successfully and there was no radioactive leakage from the site.
“The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to the [sic] our military and people,” KCNA said.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (9:36 p.m. EDT Sunday) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, citing defense officials.
Update 1: Now What?
A reader suggests that the Democrats will spin this to their advantage. I have no doubt they’ll try, but everyone is pretty much full of it here. First, I think we ought to recall the view of some that North Korea tested its first nuke in Pakistan in 1998. Whether you accept that theory or not, there’s little doubt that North Korea was a nuclear power before this administration took office. It’s also true that North Korea has enhanced and probably spread those capabilities since then, and that’s a result of this administration pursuing a watered-down Clinton policy of endless and pointless talks, combined with only belated pressure.
I claim some credit for calling the timing just before the election [although I don’t claim to have predicted, one way or another, whether they’d go through with this]. I think this was an enormous miscalculation on North Korea’s part. The Republicans will be gleeful that no one will be talking about Mark Foley next week. The national conversation will be back to national security, and the Republicans will have the chance to do what they do best — act tough on such issues. President Bush will probably have no choice but to ignore the counsel of State Department doves who had nearly unopposed control of Bush’s North Korea policy until last August. Now, he’ll most likely use many of the options he didn’t use after North Korea’s July missile tests. I would expect some very severe sanctions and a move for a U.N. arms embargo. Stronger sanctions, along the lines of PATRIOT 311, are likely. A “soft” naval blockade, meaning enhanced enforcement under the Proliferation Security Initiative, is also likely.
Update 2: The one immediate result of this: one less to sell on e-Bay.
Update 4: Richardson has much more at TKL.
Update 5: Earlier reports (from South Korea, whose currency and stocks are taking a beating today) suggested that the yield of the blast was low. The Russians say otherwise. Meaning: no reliable information yet. Meanwhile, the vote to confirm Ban Ki-Moon as U.N.S.G. was bumped off the agenda by this. I wonder how Ban will perform during his first crisis. Personally, I’m betting he’ll mouth some words about North Korea’s “provocative” act, call on everyone to show restraint, and do pretty much what he’s built his career on doing: zip.