IAEA: World ‘Holding Breath’ Over Possible N. Korea Nuclear Test

On Thursday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that "everybody is holding its breath" over North Korea's reported preparations to carry out its seventh nuclear test — the first since 2017.

IAEA: World ‘Holding Breath’ Over Possible N. Korea Nuclear Test
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Facts

  • On Thursday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that "everybody is holding its breath" over North Korea's reported preparations to carry out its seventh nuclear test — the first since 2017.
  • Though the IAEA is hopeful that it doesn't happen, Rafael Grossi argued that indications "go direct in another direction" and that a nuclear test would indicate "a program which is moving full steam ahead."
  • The UN nuclear watchdog has been monitoring activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site since June, reporting that preparations are underway but that a nuclear test still isn't immediately imminent.
  • The warning comes as, on Wednesday, Japan, South Korea, and the US vowed an "unparalleled" response if Pyongyang pushes ahead with a seventh nuclear test. Washington later reiterated this sentiment, with the Pentagon stating that a nuclear attack would lead to the "end" of Kim Jong-un's regime.
  • Fears about North Korea's nuclear program have grown in recent months as the country implemented a new law authorizing the preemptive use of nuclear weapons and reportedly took steps to deploy them along its border with the South.
  • On Friday, South Korean military officials accused Pyongyang of firing two short-range ballistic missiles into its eastern waters as Seoul wraps up its Hoguk military drills. According to a CNN count, this launch is North Korea's 28th this year.

Sources: Reuters, Euro News, scmp, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, and CNN.

Narratives

  • Republican narrative, as provided by RedState. You can't blame Kim Jong-un for flexing North Korea’s military muscle when Biden is recklessly saber-rattling with Taiwan and China. How does Kim know the US will not also team up with South Korea for an invasion of the North? Trump's relationship with and policies towards North Korea maintained stability in the Korean Peninsula.
  • Democratic narrative, as provided by MSNBC. Kim Jong-un's geopolitical actions have been erratic, and his missile launches are destabilizing the Peninsula. Instead of provoking a confrontation, Kim should take the Biden administration up on its offer to meet without preconditions and settle any of his grievances peacefully. Biden is showing strength and prudence in the region.

Predictions