We'll start with the BBC:
North Korea is trying to develop a nuclear warhead that would fit on to a missile, South Korea's top military official has said.
. . .
"I understand that North Korea is working to develop a small nuclear warhead which can be loaded into a missile," Gen Kim Tae-Young was quoted by South Korean media as saying.
"As I said earlier, it is certain that North Korea possess plutonium. It is certain the North has enough plutonium to make six to seven nuclear weapons, but it is not clear whether it has produced nuclear weapons," he said.
Gen Kim is the chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff - the country's highest-ranking military officer.
Of course, the Korean viceroy (otherwise known as Kim Jong-il) has its own reasons to do this - namely the Bush Administration's surprising refusal to cave in to his demands to be taken of the American list of terrorist sponsors. Whenever Washington runs out of concessions (or chooses to stop giving them away), the colonial regime reaches into its usual bag of scare tactics.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang has also been bust keeping Beijing's Middle Eastern friends happy (CBS News, h/t One Free Korea):
“The Middle East remans (sic) on the receiving end of the DPRK’s reckless activities,” Israeli delegate David Danieli told the meeting, referring to North Korea by its acronym.
“At least half a dozen countries in the region … have become eager recipients” of the North’s black market supplies of conventional arms or nuclear technology, he said _ mostly “through black market and covert network channels.”
While he did not name any of the suspected countries, he appeared to be referring in part to Iran and Syria, which are both under IAEA investigation . . .
The Iranian mullahcracy and its Syrian ally in particular have been Beijing's closest comrades (unless one includes Pakistan in the Middle East), but arms shipments and other signs of direct support have become more difficult for Beijing to hide lately. Lucky for them, too many outside East Asia still pretend that "North Korea" is an independent regime.
This should help Beijing get through some more short-term public relations scrapes (Boycott 2008 and Epoch Times), but more importantly, it makes sure that some of America's most dangerous enemies can still threaten her without any fingerprints from the Chinese Communist Party to raise suspicion.
Truth be told, the Korea file may very well be the biggest success of the Hu Jintao era. The viceroy has managed to wean concession after concession from the United States and her allies, yet no one has even considered putting an end to this charade and calling Kim Jong-il on this nonsense, let alone point the finger at his oldest ally and largest benefactor.
What can we expect in 2009 and beyond? If the polls here in the U.S. are any indication, more of the same. One Free Korea gave this some serious thought, and I have to agree with him:
So what will Obama do about North Korea? Pretty much what Bush did. He’ll react to North Korean provocations with empty tough talk. He’ll make occasional cryptic references to North Korea’s atrocities against its people at moments of convenience. Behind the scenes, the State Department will be firmly in charge, and State will continue — even accelerate — a policy of unilateral concessions. After Obama wins, expect the North Koreans to declare themselves open to some kind of “new beginning” with America … if only we’d drop all of our sanctions and ease up on verification. We’ll agree, and this will start a whole new renegotiation of a deal that had already ceased to pretend to disarm. Come February, the Groundhog will see his shadow, and so will you. The most (South Korean President) Lee will do to oppose this is to work quietly through friends in Washington and allow a few carefully timed leaks to slip out. Obama may not be able to deliver significant economic benefits to the North because the North will need to keep up a state of hostility with the United States, thus giving Republicans reasons to oppose him. Also, all of the Republicans who kept quiet during Bush’s second term will suddenly realize that appeasement is a bad thing after all. They will then run against Obama’s “weakness” — the charge will happen to be accurate — to make gains in Congress in 2010, as is typical of mid-term elections.
All the while, the CCP will continue to exploit their Korean colony as a tool against the free world and arms-provider of last resort to anti-American terrorists. No matter what happens to Kim and his minions, Beijing's fairly certain it will win - and so is OFK:
None of this will matter in the end, because eventually, North Korea will collapse for its own reasons, largely because Lee Myung Bak and Kim Jong Il would both have to agree for there to be any kind of “soft landing” or reform, and neither of them does agree. When the collapse comes, America will be unprepared. The Chinese will estimate Obama as unwilling to confront them and will seize the opportunity to take control, through friendly generals, over an Outer Koguryo Autonomous Zone, which of course has “historically” been a part of China.
Of course, South Korea may then decide it is finally time to take on Beijing, but I'm guessing in North America and Europe the reaction will be quiet relief. Thus will the Korean nation become the first permanent victims of the "engagement" nonsense. Meanwhile, the cadres in Zhongnanhai will take heart from their seizure of northern Korea, and look to other places to conquer.
Here's a hint for the first item on the post-Korea list: it's a decent-sized island south of Japan that starts with a "T."