As the world wakes up to the reality of a heightened crisis with North Korea following its latest nuclear test, the Obama administration finds itself with remarkably few Korea experts at the top of its Asia policy team.
North Korea confirmed Monday it had detonated a nuclear bomb for the third time, blatantly disregarding United Nations resolutions and the repeated warnings of the international community. The U.N. Security Council scrambled to call a Tuesday meeting on the incident and U.S. President Barack Obama issued a strongly worded statement of condemnation early Tuesday morning.
"This is a highly provocative act that, following its December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermines regional stability, violates North Korea's obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation," Obama's statement said. "North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security."
Obama said North Korea's activities warrant "swift and credible action" by the international community but declined to specify what action he intends to pursue. North Korea is the most heavily sanctioned country in the world, and most experts believe only China has substantial leverage to bring to bear on the Hermit Kingdom run by the young dictator Kim Jong Un.
On the Obama administration's Asia team, almost all the senior officials handling the North Korea crisis have specialties outside of Korean affairs, a stark difference from the last two times Pyongyang exploded nuclear weapons in October 2006 and May 2009. Continue reading via Foreign Policy...