North Korea is continuing to flout world opinion by threatening pre-emptive military action and conducting more missile tests. Propaganda films are running round-the-clock on state-run television, glorifying its army and praising its leaders.
Tension has almost reached breaking point. Now come threats to attack South Korea for daring to join US plans to search ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction. Nerves are jangling, with the world seemingly incapable of imposing its will. North Korea’s Asian neighbours are growing increasingly worried. “We see these latest missile launches as a challenge to the United Nations,” said Takeo Kawamura, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary. “North Korea appears to find the sanctions and the UN condemnation of them unjust, and they want an apology from the Security Council. But I think they have misjudged the mood of the international community.” North Korea’s partly-deactivated Yongbyon nuclear plant has been restarted, although it’s thought it will be months before it produces enough plutonium for a bomb. This is a high-stakes game, and North Korea seems to hold all the cards. There appears to be little world leaders can do to bring it to heel.