3rd Test in 2012 "More Likely than Not"

Tang Hwa Kwee  |  2011-10-31 14:54
North Korea is “more likely than not” to carry out a third nuclear test in the next year, according to East Asian international politics and security expert Jonathan D. Pollack.

Giving a speech at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies’ ‘Nuclear Conference 2011’ entitled ‘North Korea as a Nuclear-Armed State: Possibilities and Implications’ earlier today, Pollack, a senior fellow with the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, posited the idea of an impending test.

Pollack pointed out that alongside the political value of such an event, there are scientific and technological reasons why a third test is likely, explaining, “If Pyongyang is determined to proceed with a more credible nuclear deterrent force, as distinct from a largely symbolic capability, additional testing is only a question of time.”

“A third nuclear test, very possibly utilizing highly enriched uranium as fissile material, is a distinct possibility, perhaps intended to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth in 2012; additional missile testing (even if cloaked as a satellite launch) seems equally plausible,” he went on.

Moreover, seeing as North Korea’s two previous nuclear tests occurred in 2006 and 2009, i.e. with three years gap, Pollack suggested that 2012 may be the next logical timeframe.

At the same time, however, he acknowledged the many uncertainties surrounding Pyongyang’s nuclear decisions, conceding that “no one should expect a precise schedule for future weapons testing”, and pointing out that one “primary North Korean goal is to keep the outside world guessing about its plans and intentions.”

South Korean and U.S. election results in the forthcoming months are also likely to affect North Korean policymaking, he added.
 
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