North Korea's claim of a new, highly sophisticated uranium enrichment facility could be a ploy to win concessions in nuclear talks or an attempt to bolster leader Kim Jong Il's apparent heir.
But whatever the reason for the revelation, which a seasoned American nuclear scientist called "stunning," it provides a new set of worries for the Obama administration, which is sending its special envoy on North Korea for talks with officials in South Korea, Japan and China this week.
Why would North Korea allow this visit to a secret nuclear site if they are forging ahead to make nukes with it?
I personally think that North Korea is slowly collapsing. I'll guess that North Korea is trying to scare the West into opening up the floodgates of cash and food to restart negotiations to stop this program.
In the end, North Korea will accept the goodies to put off the day of their collapse and fail to halt this route to nuclear weapons, daring the West to do anything about it.
Squeeze Pyongyang until they die.
UPDATE: Our special envoy to North Korea says we knew about this:
"This is obviously a disappointing announcement. It is also another in a series of provocative moves" by North Korea, Bosworth said. "That being said, this is not a crisis. We are not surprised by this. We have been watching and analyzing the (North's) aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time."
So this announcement was theater. Who the audience is remains unclear. Is it the West to gain concessions? Is it internal and related to the power succession?
UPDATE: If North Korea is trying to get our attention with this announcement, this one should get China's attention:
South Korea might request to again host U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, the Financial Times reported today (see GSN, April 21).
Defense Minister Kim Tae-young discussed the matter today with South Korean lawmakers following reports that Pyongyang had allowed a U.S. scientist to view a previously secret uranium enrichment facility (see related GSN story, today).
Not that any decision let alone deployment is imminent, but the South Koreans have made a point. Are you having fun now, Peking?
UPDATE: No deal for the Pillsbury Nuke Boy:
The United States said Monday that North Korea will derive no benefit from world powers for the apparent uranium enrichment program it revealed to an American scientist earlier this month.
The only solution is to destroy the regime. The risk is that we can't contain the collapse short of war. But with these nutballs pursuing nuckear missiles, what choice do we have but to squeeze them until they die?
UPDATE: They really are playing with fire up north: