North Korea will continue to remain East Asia’s trouble-maker. Pyongyang’s active missile and nuclear programs leave the region’s main powers - China, Japan, South Korea and the ‘offshore balancer’ US - stay on alert, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. Pyongyang has no intention whatsoever to give up and dismantle its missile and nuclear programs as it would leave the country with no bargaining tools to employ for its political blackmail policies. China remains a staunch supporter of the current status quo, i.e.
There was a brief period earlier this year – 16 days to be more precise – when it looked like the death of Kim Jong Il and smooth transition to his successor, number three son Kim Jong Un, would make a breakthrough possible in the long-standing nuclear stalemate with North Korea; then Pyongyang reverted to form. Shortly after pledging to freeze all nuclear and missile tests, Pyongyang announced a satellite launch, thus pulling the rug out from under Washington (and itself) and business as usual (or unusual) returned to the Peninsula.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has an active nuclear weapons program which is of great concern to the international community. It also has the capability to enrich uranium as well as the ability to produce plutonium suitable for nuclear weapons (weapons-grade plutonium). In parallel, Pyongyang has an advanced ballistic missile program in terms of short and medium range missiles and, more recently, is trying to develop a long-range and three-stage ballistic missile.