JOHN GIBSON, HOST: How likely is a second North Korean nuclear weapons test? Here now is Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, co-author of the book Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security (Brookings, 2006).
So, Michael, do you figure that they’re going to light another one off because the secretary is over there?
MICHAEL O’HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, John, they have two big arguments to confront, and they pull in opposite directions, so I think it’s tough to predict.
On the one hand, they want to make sure their bombs work and they also want to show they’re not intimidated by this strong international response.
On the other hand, they don’t want to make Secretary Rice’s job any easier. And the U.S. has had a pretty good two weeks diplomatically after this North Korean test. It finally was the straw that broke the camel’s back, even in China and South Korea.
[Regarding the Pyongyang declaration] We should recognize that 13 years ago [North Korea] agreed to far bigger concessions. Kim is trying to turn back the clock and set the terms of what he is willing to talk about. These are minuscule moves on Kim’s part and we should treat them accordingly.
[South Korean President] Moon’s challenge is get something from Kim [Jong-un] that he can then sell to [President] Trump. To judge from Trump’s endless flattery of Kim, this shouldn’t be too hard. The question is whether this game can persist indefinitely without definitive evidence of North Korean actions [as opposed to words] of what Kim has supposedly agreed to.