Little is known about North Korea’s reclusive leader – but some analysts say that behind his eccentric outward appearance lies a skilled tactician. They say the escalating tension over the country’s nuclear capabilities helps prove that point. Kim Jong Il, who is rarely seen in public, came to power after the death of his 82-year-old father Kim Il Sung in 1994.
Diplomatic relations were initiated by the US under Bill Clinton, but President Bush has had a more aggressive approach, cutting off those ties. With a cult-like status surrounding father and son inside North Korea, it is all the more difficult for those outside to separate fact from fiction.
Pyongyang, which pulled out of the so called six- party talks in 2004, is known to have non-nuclear missiles of low to medium reach, but what worries the experts are its infamous taepodong missiles.
One of those currently reaches 6,700 kilometres, but with a smaller charge it is feared it could reach up to 10,000.
Observers say with those figures already alarming North Korea’s critics, news of the nuclear test will do nothing to ease tension.