The Other Nuclear Option, North Korea Edition

Posted: October 9, 2006 in 2006 Elections, Foreign Policy, National Security, Nukes

I will take a break from Foley coverage to note the breaking news out of Asia tonight.

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — North Korea on Monday claimed it has performed a successful nuclear test, according to that country’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

South Korean government officials also said North Korea performed its first nuclear test, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported.

The apparent nuclear test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, Yonhap reported, citing defense officials.

“The field of scientific research in the DPRK (North Korea’s official name) successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9 … at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation,” KCNA reported.

Late Sunday in Washington, a U.S. military official told CNN that “something clearly has happened,” but the Pentagon was working to fully confirm the report.

Senior U.S. officials said they also believed the test took place, citing seismic data that appeared to show one.

South Korean intelligence officials said a seismic wave of magnitude-3.58 had been detected in North Hamkyung province, according to Yonhap.

This is big news, no matter when it would happen. Politically, it hands Democrats more ammunition against the Republicans on foreign policy issues for the November elections. Republicans wanted something to get Foley out of the news, but I think this isn’t what they had in mind.

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