The Fifth North Korean Nuclear Test: Impacts on the US and China

On 9 September, North Korea (the DPRK) set off a nuclear test, its fifth. I was in London for an academic conference, but managed to write an op-ed for CNN international.

I also shared some thoughts with AFP on the China angle which had overlooked by others, namely, that the Chinese Foreign Ministry had probably been forewarned by the North Korean side of the test.

Tom Phillips, the Guardian reporter in Beijing, asked me for some reflections on China’s likely response, comments which were included in that newspaper’s live blog of the post-test kerfuffle.

Looking back, I probably should have been more aggressive in forcing reporters to speed-read my new article for the Royal United Services Institute, which runs about 2000 words and provides an in-depth assessment of China-North Korean relations in 2016. That essay provides details from my fieldwork in the border region (including conversations with local trade officials in Dandong) and one tidbit about coal which I learned when in the DPRK this past spring. The overall assessment — indeed, my preferred title of the piece — was one of “Continuity amid Turbulence.”

Illustration: For expediency and because this post is being composed in a Tokyo Starbucks with very dodgy Wi-fi, I am stealing from Sino-NK, whose social media director Sherri Ter-Molen was proficient enough to put two images of me together which I am unaware of how to separate. Photos were taken in Dandong and Pyongyang in March 2016.

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