North Korea, not wanting to look like an inept bunch who can't enter a space race that's already over, is desperate. The putzy new Glorious Leader looks weak. The solution? Blow up a nuclear bomb to scare the world.
Reuters is reporting, based on an informed "source", with "close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing", that North Korea will indeed detonate a nuclear bomb "soon", and that "preparations are almost complete". That's a lot of quotation marks, but it all makes sense. The near-medieval country likely feels pressed to do something after completely botching the rocket launch. It's running on credibility fumes, and without the ability to even terrorise a liiiiiitle bit, it comes to the global bargaining table without any chips. Without anything, really — maybe a bag of Chinese food aid corn.
And of course, this wouldn't be the first time: Pyongyang says it detonated test nukes in 2006 and 2009, and small earthquakes were detected at the exact same time by seismologists around the world, which does back up the claims. This would also be a particularly tense time to go nuclear, having just threatened to reduce the South Korean capital to "ashes" only yesterday.
North Korea is a country of big talk, small means, and constant failure, yes — but unlike rocket science, making a giant boom isn't outside Pyongyang's brittle stone age grip. [Reuters via Atlantic Wire]
Footage above from US underground nuclear tests — likely comparable to what North Korea will attempt.