All the nightmares came today…
Iranian nuclear warheads redux: The evidence that North Korea has tested a viable nuclear weapon, on the order of 10 kilotons or so, is indisputable. I don’t intend to repeat my entry “Iranian nuclear warheads — a technical note” here (scroll down the page a little), but I will say this: given the close links between the Iranians and the North Koreans on nuclear weapons development–the Iranians were present at the fizzle of 2006–this has to be seen as an Iranian test too. And if the Israelis intend to strike, they should do it now. And yes, it really is that simple.
Update: Gordon Chang, who has followed the North Korean situation closely for several years, outlines the Chinese responsibility for the nuclear test here. Read the whole thing with one caveat: I suspect that North Korea may have slipped out of the Chinese leadership’s control to some extent, particularly if there is a succession struggle taking place. But Chang is right on the basic inputs: North Korea gets 90% of its oil, 80% of its consumer goods and 45% of its food from China. And that’s leverage, and if the Obama Administration were to push the Chinese hard while rapidly installing theater missile defense in the region…well, that may be the only course of action left at this point.
Yet unless every ship, every plane, and every suitcase coming out of North Korea is going to be embargoed and examined from this point on (in actuality, close to impossible, given the porous border with China), my comment on the Israeli calculus stands.