North Korea's Nuclear Test: Motivations, Implications, and U.S. Options
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced it conducted a nuclear test. After several days of evaluation, U.S. authorities confirmed that the underground explosion was nuclear, but that the test produced a low yield of less than one kiloton. As the United Nations Security Council met and approved a resolution condemning the tests and calling for punitive sanctions, North Korea remained defiant, insisting that any increased pressure on the regime would be regarded as an act of war. China and South Korea, the top aid providers to and trade partners with the North, supported the resolution, but uncertainty remains as to whether the two countries will strictly enforce the sanctions andor cut off other economic cooperation and aid considered crucial to the regime. The sanction regime depends heavily on individual states compliance with the guidelines. Economists argue that the only definitively effective punishment on North Korea would be the suspension of energy aid from China, which reportedly supplies about 70 of North Koreas fuel. Determining the motivations of a government as opaque and secretive as North Korea is exceedingly difficult, but analysts have put forth a range of possibilities to explain why the Pyongyang regime decided to test a nuclear weapon. Possible motivations include an attempt to engage the United States in bilateral talks, to ensure the security of the regime, and to satisfy hard-line elements within the Pyongyang government, as well as technical motivations for carrying out a nuclear test.
- Nuclear Weapons