North Korea announced to the world that it had successfully tested a nuclear device underground and immediately faced the rhetoric of condemnation and veiled threats of Iraq-style military action orchestrated by US President George W. Bush.
The communist state has seemingly forced its way, like an uninvited guest, into the elite 'members only' nuclear club that is made up of the United States, Britain, France, Russia, India, Pakistan and China. Israel is thought to be a covert 'member', as it is widely believed to have nuclear weapons but has not made a public declaration to confirm.
The reported test came one day after the ninth anniversary of North Korean leader Kim Jong i1's rise to power. Jong, who is revered by North Koreans, is referred to as 'the dear leader'. The North's government-controlled Korean Central News Agency said that the test was completed with no leak of radiation. It added that this was "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".
Academic Dan Plesch, one of Britain's leading commentators on security and defence, said: "The background to North Korea's test is that, since the end of the cold war, the nuclear states have tried to impose a double standard, hanging on to nuclear weapons for themselves and their friends while denying them to others. Like alcoholics condemning teenage drinking, the nuclear powers have made the spread of nuclear weapons the terror of our age, distracting attention from their own behaviour. Western leaders refuse to accept that our own actions encourage others to follow suit ".
Predictably, international reaction was less than euphoric. China, the North's closest ally, America, Japan and Britain led the chorus of censure. US President George W Bush threatened serious 'repercussions' and said: "The United States condemns this provocative act. Once again, North Korea has defied the will of the international community and the international community will respond. The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States". According to The Associated Press, America has proposed strict United Nations sanctions against North Korea which include a trade ban on military and luxury items, the power to inspect all cargo entering or leaving the country and the freezing of assets connected to their weapons programmes.
The Chinese foreign ministry said: "The Chinese side strongly demands the North Korean side abide by its pledges on denuclearisation and stops any action that would worsen the situation".
North Korea's demonstration of its nuclear capability comes after the country's year long refusal to attend six-party international talks aimed at persuading it to disarm. The east Asia state has repeatedly called for the US to remove punitive sanctions it imposed for alleged counterfeiting and money laundering. Kim Jong i1 government withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2003 after American officials accused it of violating an earlier nuclear pact between Washington and Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
With increased hostile relations between the defiant and protectionist North Korea and a belligerent US and its allies, how concerned do we need to be? This was the heated debated occurring on websites, blogs and message boards in many parts of the world. Here, The-Latest gives you a view of the discussion. Make your feelings known on this issue by adding your comments to this story.
"I think they should concentrate on feeding their people. History is written with victors of war not the losers. As for sanctions they don't really work. Look at Saddam. Might is right, meaning that if you are the biggest or most powerful you dictate to others. Eventually he George W. Bush) had to be invaded, mind you there was no weapons found".
"I think North Korea need to be sorted out big time as they're a destabilising influence in the entire region. Kim Jon IL, or whatever his name is, is completely nuts and won't back down until he gets HIS own way. I say nuke North Korea and be done with it!".
Robert, Kettering, UK
"Completely right. For too long the wishy washy Western states have been appeasing this evil country. We British taxpayers, through the UN "do-gooders" have been pouring free food aid to this country while they use their money to maintain an enormous army and threaten the stability of the Free World. This place must be completely isolated and left to starve, or use their own resources to feed their people. Whilst a nuclear bomb would sound a good idea, some of the atomic cloud might blow down to S Korea. No, just let 'em all starve".
George Firth, London , UK
"It's a damn shame when someone is right about a prediction that involves something like this. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, I had a conversation with some friends of mine about the stupidity of Bush and his cronies wanting to create a war in Iraq whenever North Korea seemed more than willing to give us a real war sometime in the near future. It is looking more and more like that may come to pass. With an Idiot like W. in the White House we have seen things look increasingly bleak and dark for our nation's future. Talk about a hell of a mess. The timing of North Korea's Nuke testing could not have come at a worse time for America, nor a better time for the administration currently running the country. The threat of a nuclear North Korea gives Bush & co. another reason to push "The fear doctrine" down our throats.
"This was what Chavez was referring to when he talked about Bush living the rest of his time in a nightmare. If he retaliates, he forces North Korea to retaliate i.e. sell nuclear weaponry to terrorists. If he does nothing he looks weak and incompetent and inept, all of which he is. He has no good choices, the typical end to failed policies".
"North Korea would not have gone nuclear had the Bush Administration not arrogantly brushed aside the previous agreement with North Korea and embraced a hardline against them upon assuming office in 2001. All of this was preventable. Since 2001 They have done nothing but ignore the North Koreans, ignored their nuclear programme and ignored our interests in the region. That's all that needs to be said about this event. It could have been prevented and was not."
"Is it weird that I really don't bat an eyelid at: North Korea may have faked Test! but then I scroll down to: Google acquires Youtube … and I'm like WHAAAAT??? ...
"Now that North Korea has set off the bomb, so to speak, by carrying out a nuclear test, where are things going to go? Predictions of North Korea's further isolation in the international community, fortified trade restrictions and embargos on North Korea, a strain on North Korea's relationship to China, its "one and only" friend in the world (the only one that counts anyway) abound. Some even predict an impending war in the peninsula. The UN security council sanctions military intervention in cases like this, they say. But then, the U.S. doesn't have any military force left to deploy. They're already busy at work in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid here. But this is scary. Probably for pretty much everyone."