N Korea keeps world on boil

North Korea’s claim of conducting a successful hydrogen bomb test has been met with both scepticism and condemnation by the world community. There are doubts about the veracity of the claim because available evidence points to a nuclear yield less than that of a hydrogen bomb. Pyongyang’s nuclear programme is watched closely and monitored, and there are views that the tested device could be short of a hydrogen bomb and that the claim might itself be a bluff. Even then it is a matter of concern because it shows that North Korea’s nuclear policy is still strident and that it wants to put pressure on the world with its nuclear capacity and belligerence. The world is not on the road to nuclear disarmament. But acquisition of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states and scaling up by existing nuclear powers could make the world more vulnerable and increase insecurity. The importance of the nuclear deal involving Iran lay in this.

The claim has evoked condemnation and concern not only from the US and other western countries but also from North Korea’s only ally, China. It has caused alarm among neighbours like South Korea and Japan, because it is another cause for instability in the region which is already troubled. Proliferation of more weapons of mass destruction can create more insecurity. The situation is aggravated by the North Korea’s record of international conduct. It is a backward and totalitarian country known for its opacity, paranoia and unpredictability. The international efforts to deal with the nuclear threat from Pyongyang have been at a dead end after the six-nation initiative led by China broke down in 2012. UN Security Council resolutions which imposed sanctions on North Korea have had no impact on the country’s conduct. However, there is the need for more intensive international efforts to rein in Pyongyang. China will again have to lead any future initiative. It is not easy to deal with a country which is isolated from the rest of
the world. Even China’s leverage with North Korea is considered to have diminished in recent months but a Chinese initiative may be the only viable option now.

India has a special reason to be concerned over the development because North Korea’s nuclear programme has traditionally had links with Pakistan’s programme. The links have been surreptitious but there has been evidence in the past of exchange of knowhow and materials. So, any strengthening of North Korea’s nuclear profile can affect India’s security interests. India will therefore be especially interested in the efforts made at the UN or outside to deal with the situation.
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