“If the U.S. keeps pestering us and increases pressure, we will regard it as a declaration of war and will take a series of physical corresponding measures,” the North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Well, what on earth did they expect? Applause? Mind you, they still have the chutzpah to say they want to disarm, but the last time they said that was just hours before their alleged nuke test. Meanwhile, North Korea has just lost one of its biggest trading partners, just like that:
A news report said Wednesday that Japan will impose a total ban on North Korean imports and prohibit its ships from entering Japanese ports in response to Pyongyang’s declaration of a nuclear weapons test.
The sanctions, which will include expanded restrictions on North Koreans entering Japan, were to be announced after some Cabinet ministers meet to discuss security issues Wednesday, public broadcaster NHK reported.
All of which just makes North Korea more dependent on China, right? Maybe. Even China seems to have had it with North Korea, but isn’t sure where to go from here:
“China has very limited options,” said Shi Yinhong of Renmin University in Beijing. “What will China do if the U.S. government and Japan call for sanctions in the U.N. Security Council? China is a U.N. member and will have to implement the sanctions. If that happens, Chinese-North Korean relations will be destroyed.”
Beijing is likely to agree to a strong U.N. resolution and, perhaps, limited sanctions, as it did after North Korea’s July missile tests, while counseling the other U.N. powers to not further irritate a testy, isolated state, analysts said.
My sense is that this will only go so far with China. It’s not just me:
North Korea provides a strategic buffer against U.S. troops in South Korea and ties down those American forces should Beijing attack Taiwan, a democratically ruled island China claims as its own. A North Korean collapse could also send refugees pouring over the Chinese border, straining the resources in the northeastern industrial rustbelt.
China doesn’t want the North Korean regime to collapse, but if I were Kim Jong Il, I would keep a particularly close eye on my senior military officers.