Wednesday, October 18, 2006

North Korea and the Big Question

As crude as the North Korean blast was, it punctuated a scary fact:

The rules that governed the nuclear road during the cold war and its immediate aftermath have become irrelevant, replaced by the law of the jungle--every state, rogue or otherwise, for itself.

The risk now, says former Clinton Administration Defense Department official Graham Allison, is the emergence of a more dangerous nuclear age. Pyongyang's test, says Allison, threatens to set off a "cascade" of nations seeking the ultimate weapon. "The North Korean test blew a hole in the nonproliferation regime of Northeast Asia," says Allison. "I think this is bad news for the country, bad news for the region, bad news for the world."

What are the consequences for the U.S. and the rest of the world? Are we in an era of barely controlled proliferation, in which countless nations must at least consider the possibility of going nuclear? Or are those fears, in the wake of the North Korean test, overblown? Is there still time to manage the situation?


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