Nordkorea und der große Bang

--- Es gibt mal wieder mysteriöse US-Geheimdienstinformationen, denen zufolge Nordkorea gehörig mit dem atomaren Feuer spielt: President Bush and his top advisers have received intelligence reports in recent days describing a confusing series of actions by North Korea that some experts believe could indicate the country is preparing to conduct its first test explosion of a nuclear weapon, according to senior officials with access to the intelligence. While the indications were viewed as serious enough to warrant a warning to the White House, American intelligence agencies appear divided about the significance of the new North Korean actions, much as they were about the evidence concerning Iraq's alleged weapons stockpiles. Some analysts in agencies that were the most cautious about the Iraq findings have cautioned that they do not believe the activity detected in North Korea in the past three weeks is necessarily the harbinger of a test. A senior scientist who assesses nuclear intelligence says the new evidence "is not conclusive," but is potentially worrisome. If successful, a test would end a debate that stretches back more than a decade over whether North Korea has a rudimentary arsenal, as it has boasted in recent years. Some analysts also fear that a test could change the balance of power in Asia, perhaps leading to a new nuclear arms race there. Der von der New York Times vorgenommene Vergleich mit dem Irak vor dem jüngsten Krieg lässt nichts Gutes erwarten. Anscheinend hinken CIA und Co. dem Stand der Tatsachen aber hinterher, denn nach südkoreanischen Agenturmeldungen hat Nordkorea vermutlich bereits einen größeren Atombombentest am Donnerstag durchgeführt -- bei der gemeldeten Explosion könnte es sich aber auch um einen Unfall gehandelt haben.

Update: Laut der Washington Post ist die Lage in Fernost noch deutlich komplexer. Demnach ist nämlich das Atombombenprogramm von Südkorea (auch?) sehr weit fortgeschritten; der US-Verbündete könnte sich damit zu einem weiteren großen Problem für die Weltmacht entwickeln: As the Bush administration tries to ratchet up pressure on Iran, emerging details of clandestine nuclear work in South Korea indicate that the U.S. ally was more successful than Tehran in producing the key ingredient for a bomb and used deception to conceal the illegal activity from U.N. inspectors for years. In interviews late last week, diplomats with knowledge of both covert programs disclosed that South Korean scientists enriched uranium to levels four times higher than did their counterparts in Iran. Seoul conducted those experiments, in violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, two years before Iran did and kept them secret for nearly two years after Iran's came to light, said the diplomats, who would discuss the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency only on the condition of anonymity. ... The South Korean revelations have thrown the Bush administration's efforts on Iran and North Korea into turmoil. Over the weekend, U.S. officials said they were forced to scale back plans to refer the Iran issue to the U.N. Security Council by month's end. And a statement from North Korea on Seoul's nuclear work cast further doubt on U.S. hopes of resuming talks later this month aimed at persuading North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Update 2: Alles halb so wild, versuchen nordkoreanische Spindoktoren nun den Vorfall unter den Teppich zu kehren.