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NK nukes
North Korea and nukes

Date published: 2/13/2013

NEWLY sworn Secretary of State John Kerry has his first fresh crisis on his hands: North Korea has conducted another nuclear test. The underground event, first detected as a magnitude-4.9 earthquake by the U.S. Geological Survey, came hard on the heels of a successful launch in December of a long-range missile. Both represent threatening advancements in North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

A spokesman said that the North Korea test was intended "to show our anger to the hostile actions of the U.S. and show off our will and capability to protect our sovereign right to the end." Those "hostile actions" include U.S.-led sanctions both for North Korea's ongoing nuclear program.

But another motivation for the test may be to shore up the regime of Kim Jong-un, the 29-year-old heir to the Kim personality-cult dynasty. The dictator, who assumed office a bit more than a year ago, has two older brothers and no military experience. With a nation perpetually on the cusp of starvation and at the nadir of economic growth, Kim may be trying to appear stronger than he is by provoking an international response.

Regardless, the idea of deliverable nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea is unthinkable, and its partnership with Iran is equally repellant. President Obama and Mr. Kerry have their work cut out for them.