William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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NORTH KOREA – AT 8:31 A.M. ET:  North Korea has conducted another successful nuclear test.  The "international community" has condemned the test, which it does routinely after every such test, and will do nothing of significance to stop the next one.  President Obama, in his own version of the routine statement, called the test "a highly provocative act."  Wow.  The North Koreans must be chilled to the bone by that toughness.  From Fox:

Experts say North Korea's successful detonation of a miniaturized nuclear device is concerning because it indicates the country may be getting closer to the ability to put a nuclear device on a missile.

North Korea drew worldwide condemnation Tuesday after it announced it had successfully conducted its third nuclear test, in direct defiance to U.N. Security Council orders to shut down its atomic activity or face more sanctions and international isolation.

It claims the test was its "first response" to perceived U.S. threats and warns it will continue with unspecified "second and third measures of greater intensity" if the United States maintains its hostility.

North Korea expert Andrei Lankov tells Fox News that possession of such a "miniaturized" device would be necessary to create a nuclear warhead.

"It shows they are advancing their nuclear technology," Lankov said.

He also noted the significance of the timing of the test, which came just months after North Korea's successful intercontinental ballistic missile test.

"It seems they are very close to being able to put a device on a missile," Lankov said.

Peter Beck, an expert for Asia Society, tells Fox News the blast appears to be "significantly greater" than North Korea's past nuclear tests. He, too, said the test "...shows a greater commitment by North Korea to marry the missile and nuclear programs."

COMMENT:  There's another aspect to the timing.  North Korea's announcement of its successful test comes the day of President Obama's State of the Union message, just as the terrorist attack at Benghazi came on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  Foreign nations study us, know our dates, know what is happening in America.  North Korea is ruining Obama's big day, not that he's particularly capable of bigness.

The significance of this test extends across several areas.  First, it shows the ineffectiveness, indeed the failure, of American foreign policy.  Our policy toward North Korea has failed, period.  But you won't be hearing that from John Kerry or Chuck Hagel, who will now probably call for "additional dialogue" and some increased, ineffective sanctions.  Second, North Korea is a major exporter of deadly technology.  What is developed in North Korea today can find its way to Iran or Al Qaeda tomorrow.  Only the Israelis have been effective in countering that, taking out a North Korean-supplied nuclear reactor in Syria.  Third, the American allies around North Korea, including South Korea and Japan, are watching this test as they watch America cut its defenses.  They will draw conclusions.  Neither country is a nuclear power, although both have the technology to build nuclear bombs.  Maybe South Korea and Japan will now see the need to distance themselves from a failing America.  I doubt if the Democratic Party base will care.

February 12,  2013