The North Korean test was apparently detonated in an abandoned coal mine at Hwaderi, near the northeastern city of Kilju. It is essential that the apparent North Korean test be placed in the proper perspective:
1) This is not a prelude to a first-strike attack against South Korea or Japan. The D.P.R.K. would never use these weapons, unless they were under attack, for fear that the U.S. would respond in kind if used against Japan or South Korea.
2) The nuclear test is in part the failure of the United States to fully implement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968. That obligated nuclear powers to move toward the elimination of these systems. The opposite occurred; the U.S. has endorsed and welcomed Israel's nuclear deterrent and is offering India additional nuclear-civil arrangements despite their 1998 testing of a nuclear weapon. Of course they had tested a "peaceful" fission device on May 18, 1974 at the Rajasthan test site.
3) While this underground nuclear explosion, which may or may not have been a successful fission test, is a dramatic moment in the D.P.R.K. pursuit of atomic weapons, it merely confirms what has been long suspected: a nuclear North Korea. It does not alter the strategic balance in Northeast Asia and should not trigger erratic responses from the United States, Japan or South Korea.
4) China, the supplier of fuel and is the lifeline of the D.P.R.K., does not benefit from a nuclear neighbor but recognises a collapsing North Korea with a failed state would pose huge refugee problems and present even greater destabilising forces in the region. So if North Korea is saddled with even more sanctions, than what the U.S. has unilaterally imposed, it might destroy the country and cause unintended consequences. North Korea does not need an aggressive containment policy. It will not use nuclear weapons unless attacked preemptively. It has no intention of using these weapons in a preventive war.
5) Now is the time for bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea. Now is the time for the U.S. to abandon nuclear missile defence that the D.P.R.K. finds so threatening. Now is the time for the U.S. to seek a denuclearised Middle East. There needs to be a reinvigoration of non-proliferation from adopting the Comprehensive Test-ban Treaty and moving rapidly toward massive reductions in nuclear arms. That is the overall climate that I believe is necessary to dissuade other nations from developing non-conventional weapons of mass destruction.