It's anyone's guess why North Korea has returned to rattling its nuclear sabre. Some think it's just the same old problem-child behavior: acting out to get attention and receive humanitarian and food aid. Others believe its more closely tied to the country's internal power struggle, underway since Kim Jong Il suffered stroke. For its part, Pyongyang blames... wait for it... the United States, of course. It's a tough sell, considering that the Obama administration has offered to sit down with the North Koreans in direct talks--a move that might have been a major step forward had Kim Jong Il not decided to scrap it all and go for broke.
The question of how to deal with North Korea's recent displays of aggression--the nuclear test, the missile launches, the kidnapping of two US reporters--is one that will require a united international front. To that end, US envoy Stephen Bosworth is emphasizing a renewed diplomatic effort. Speaking to the Korean Society in New York City, he sent a message to the North Koreans assuring them that "we have no intention to invade North Korea or to change its regime through force and we have made this clear ... repeatedly." That doesn't mean there'll be no military reaction, though. "North Korea's recent actions to develop a nuclear capacity and an intercontinental ballistic missile capacity will require that we expand our consideration of possible responses, including our force posture and options for extended deterrence," Bosworth continued.
But sanctions appear to be the international community's hope at the moment. (Whether they can work is another question entirely.) According to AFP, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Japan and South Korea, have reached agreement on a tougher set of sanctions, which they will present to the 15-member Security Council as early as Thursday.