By Andre de Nesnera
26 May 2009
|A graph measured by S. Korea's National Earthquake Center shows the seismic wave of N. Korea's nuclear test, Seoul, 25 May 2009|
David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security, has been following North Korea's nuclear program for many years.
"In 2006, it [North Korea] was trying to achieve an explosion of four kilotons and it only got about half a kiloton - so it was generally viewed as not very successful. This time, it looks to be anywhere from one to five kilotons and if North Korea was trying to get four kilotons, then you'd have to judge the test a success," he said.
Albright says as a comparison, the bomb the United States detonated over Nagasaki at the end of World War II had a yield of 20 kilotons.
|A 07 Apr 2009 video grab by N. Korean TV shows a three-stage white rocket, being launched from an undisclosed location in N. Korea|
Jim Walsh is a nuclear and North Korea analyst with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT, in Cambridge Mass.]. He questions the value of those tests.
"Back in the summer of 2006 around July 4, when the North Koreans had broken the moratorium on long-range missile tests and had their first long-range missile test in 10 years or so, they also fired off a bunch of short-range missiles. There really is no reason why you'd want to do these things together from a scientific or engineering point of view," he said.
For his part, Albright says the short-range missile tests were simply part of North Korea's military research and development program. However he says the missiles - which are not equipped to carry nuclear warheads - were fired to deliberately coincide with the underground nuclear test.
Experts are asking why would the North Koreans detonate a nuclear device at this time?
Jim Walsh says there are two theories.
|A photo released 22 May 2009 of Kim Jong Il(l) watching an Air Force flight training at an unidentified location in N. Korea|
The international community has strongly condemned Pyongyang's detonation of a nuclear device. But analysts say there is little it can do to pressure North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.
Analysts also question the future of the six-party talks - a negotiating process that began in August 2003 bringing together representatives from the United States, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea.
Pyongyang withdrew from the talks following international condemnation of its April 5 test launch of a long-range ballistic missile.
David Kay, former chief nuclear weapons inspector with the (Vienna-based) International Atomic Energy Agency, believes the talks - as he put it - are dead.
"Not only are they dead because the North Koreans have expressed no interest in returning to them - I think it is recognized in Washington at least and I think around the world that it would be foolish to reward the North Koreans' sending off a nuclear device by rushing back to talks," Kay said.
However David Albright says placing more sanctions on Pyongyang and, as he put it, continuing to demonize North Korea is not the way forward. He says the new U.S. administration must send a high-level mission to that country.
|Envoys to the Six-Party Talks on N. Korea's nuclear issue shake hands before a new round of talks in Beijing, (2008 file photo)|
Albright says threatening North Korea with sanctions and isolation is guaranteed to create escalation and not capitulation.