Rebukes

REBUKES…. If North Korea’s nuclear test was the latest in a series of cries for attention, it was something of a success. North Korea wanted the world to take notice? Mission accomplished.

As the NYT noted this afternoon, the test “drew condemnation and criticism around the world, with some governments threatening to press for tighter sanctions at a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council scheduled for later in the afternoon.”

If North Korea had hoped for support from China, its largest trading partner, it was out of luck. China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement explaining that it was “resolutely opposed” to the test. Russia’s reaction was similar, noting that North Korea’s actions “seriously destabilize the situation in Northeast Asia.”

President Obama issued a condemnation in a press statement early this morning, and followed it up with public comments at the White House this afternoon, calling the nuclear test and subsequent firing of short-range missiles a “grave threat to the peace and security of the world and I strongly condemn their reckless action.”

The president added that North Korea’s actions are “a blatant violation of international law” and a contradiction of the country’s “own prior commitments.” Obama concluded, “North Korea will not find security and respect through threats and illegal weapons.”

As for what North Korea hopes to achieve, if recent history is any guide, the goal is to get some semblance of international stature, which Kim Jung Il believes is the byproduct of being a “nuclear power.” Today’s test, like April’s missile launch, is supposed to a) get major powers to take North Korea seriously; and b) give the country leverage in future negotiations.

That is, of course, a fairly narrow agenda, and in the realm of international diplomacy, it sounds a bit like a child playing with some very dangerous toys. As dday put it, “The North Koreans historically have sought headlines rather than peace or stability. They are the screaming baby in the corner demanding attention. It’s unclear what they want after that attention is paid.”