Viewing North Korea’s Nuclear Test through a South Asian Lens
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Viewing North Korea’s Nuclear Test through a South Asian Lens


It was never in doubt that North Korea’s nuclear test on February 12 would raise hackles in East Asia. The rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula since Pyongyang launched a rocket in December, along with its alleged progress towards miniaturizing the nuclear device it was testing, have elicited widespread condemnation from South Korea, Japan and the United States. Even China, North Korea’s closest ally, expressed its “resolute” opposition and “strong dissatisfaction” following the test.

Hours after the North Korean test, the United Nations Security Council issued a strong statement condemning the test and promised to push through a new resolution with stronger sanctions.

However, perhaps the most noteworthy statement against the launch came from India, a country that does not tend to respond quickly to developments beyond South Asia.

Despite its “Look East” policy and burgeoning bilateral partnerships with South Korea and Japan, India has a limited direct stake and leverage over developments on the Korean peninsula. Further, it is not a member of the six-party talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution for North Korea’s nuclear program.

Calling Pyongyang’s latest act of defiance “a matter of deep concern”, India urged North Korea “to refrain from such actions which adversely impact on peace and stability in the region.”

Beyond concerns over North Korea’s consolidation of its de-facto nuclear status, New Delhi’s “deep concern” had a South Asian subtext; namely, the allegedly close nexus between the nuclear and scientific establishments in Pakistan and North Korea. Many believe that the ties between Pakistan and North Korea have contributed to Pyongyang’s progress towards developing nuclear weapons.

The test coincided with Pakistan’s reassertion of its opposition to the fissile material cutoff treaty at the recent UN Conference on Disarmament.

In the coming weeks, India will investigate whether Pyongyang used uranium in its latest nuclear explosion. Its previous tests in 2006 and 2009 were believed to have been plutonium-based devices. The possible use of a uranium-based device would represent a significant threat and would confirm that the North is making tangible progress towards weaponizing its nuclear arsenal.

It also raises fears over the proliferation of such weapons to terrorist groups and other non-state actors as North Korea could sell such devices in exchange for much-needed revenue. After all, highly enriched uranium is harder to detect and consequently easier to export.

For India, the possible threat posed by nuclear weapons falling into the hands of non-state actors like the Lashkar-e-Taiba remains a distant yet real possibility. Therefore, New Delhi will likely use any evidence of a uranium-based device in Pyongyang’s latest test to highlight the alleged Pakistan-North Korea links.

Pakistan’s nuclear program uses highly enriched uranium. Islamabad dismissed earlier proliferation links with North Korea, following the Abdul Qadeer Khan scandal, on the grounds that Pyongyang’s program was plutonium-based.

A controversial book called Goodbye Shahzadi by journalist Shyam Bhatia, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s classmate at Oxford, suggests that Bhutto may have played a role in forging clandestine nuclear ties between Islamabad and Pyongyang. The book claims that North Korea offered Pakistan long-range missile technology to counter India’s missile development program in exchange for sensitive nuclear technology.

An unintended consequence of the North Korean explosion on February 12 could be global scrutiny of Pakistan’s own nuclear program. It could also decrease Islamabad’s chances of getting a civilian nuclear deal like the one granted to India by the United States in 2008 – a deal that Pakistan desperately needs to counter its power crisis and gain strategic parity with India.


April 12, 2013 at 02:24

It looks more like PAK-India issue rather then that of North Korea.. 


Sardar KHAN
February 22, 2013 at 15:25

Why you are misleading the world by twisting the facts?Why you are twisting the history by liaing?It was bunderstan(india)who tested first in 1974 and then tested neuclear divises in 1998 before Pakistan did?

Trouble with you bunderstanis is you always lie,lie,lie,lie.lie and lie again and again,hopping world will treat it as truth.But world is not so stupid and can see the truth clearly.

Sardar KHAN
February 22, 2013 at 15:17

When you bunderstani will come out of your slavery oriented mind of being ruled by Muslims for the 1000 years?

The day you will stop thinking for the revange of that master and slave attitude,it will be best for the region.Peace will pervail by your waking out of the hatefull dream..

Sardar KHAN
February 22, 2013 at 15:10


You bunderstanis are always decry about Pakistan.Why you always forget it was your country who,introduced nukes in the region first?Therefore,you country is the real CANCER in the region.

It is Pakistan who always suffer from the attacks from the bunderstan.Your country's leadership comes to the negotiation table and makes comitments for peace one day and even before the ink is dry from the agreed pact,renegates next day from the commitments.What a yo,yo and lying bastards are your leaders?Make an agreement,then must stick to it and do not blame Pakistan all the time.Whatever,we do for the good of our country,do not object to it at all.We are free and seperate country,with a different,language,culture and thinking from your country,so do not accept from us to do what you want.The day your people will accept the ground reality of existance ofPakistan as a free and independent country,it will best for the region and will be a peaceful region.

Unfortunately,it is a bitter pill to swalow,but you have to do it one day,why not now than latter?

February 16, 2013 at 05:12

For the vast majority of Indians, whether Pakistan is right or wrong is immaterial. Indians are far more concerned with China, and its belligerent posture in Xinjiang, Tibet, Senkakus, Spratleys, Paracels, and Tawang. Naturally, when Pakistan increases its nuclear capability, which is solely aimed at India, Indians will view it with concern.

Indian missiles are have ancient Sanskrit names, such as Agni (Fire) and Prithvi (Water). That Pakistan names its missiles after tyrannical Afghan kings who invaded and plundered India – Babur, Ghaznavi, Ghauri, Abdali, shows not only a deep-seated India-obsession but also stupidity!

February 15, 2013 at 12:50

It has a negitive prespective when we are dealing with countires where technologies like missles and Nulcear are getting developed for weapon programs and not for peaceful purpose.

India developed its space vehiles first before producting missles for (both are similer technologies). Pakistan has missles and almost no space programs. India already make nuclear reactors and its a leader in research of thorium based nuclear reactors and thus have equal knowledge for weapon programs.

Countires like Nkeroa and Pakistan wants these tech for weapons. they have no other usage for these tech, alteast for many many years to come.

Zahid Hussain Khalid
February 15, 2013 at 05:58

Does nuclear proliferation have only the negative perspective or is it have a positive aspect too? The world emphasizes and agrees on the need of positive thinking. Why this positive thinkinking is not applied to the issue of nuclear proliferation. How it can be done?

Is it possible to declare nuclear capability a global asset for peaceful purposes. The nations of the world can pass a resolution to set up regional hubs of nuclear centers for energy generation, medical, agricultural and industrial reaserach and usage under the supervision of a global consortium of nuclear scientists. Details can be worked out. I can write in detail on the subject if the management of this magazine desires so.

February 15, 2013 at 05:01

Oh really? so you still doubt when India has been saying that Pakistani Army/ISI uses terrorism as state policy and have become a global terror hub? 

So you don't believe AQ Khans nuclear prolifration program? Taliban and ISI nexus in Aganistan? don't you know that everyday there is a bomb blant in Pakistan as their own terrorism is eating them now?

don't you beleive the reports that Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear weapon stockpile and within 8 years it will surpass Britain and India specailly when its economy is almost bankcrupt and is only functional beause of glucosue of dollors from USA.

Pakistan is a cancer and India gets most affected by this as they are terrorist and have open hands in  terror activities into India and the world now. India know about Pakistan must better then anyone who get less affected by Pakistan. 

What we say gets proved later on…so just wait and watch how these Nuclear weapons will slowly land in the hands of terrorists. Terror attacks on military installation are already happening their.

February 15, 2013 at 00:57

For Indians, Pakistan is always wrong. The world can bank on their rivalry.

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