Report: North Korea Warns Chinese Of More Nuke Tests, Missile Launches

The North Koreans are reportedly giving their Chinese benefactors advance notice of their continued intention to provoke the United States:

(Reuters) – North Korea has told its key ally, China, that it is prepared to stage one or even two more nuclear tests this year in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, said a source with direct knowledge of the message.

Further tests could also be accompanied this year by another rocket launch, said the source who has direct access to the top levels of government in both Beijing and Pyongyang.

The isolated regime conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday, drawing global condemnation and a stern warning from the United States that it was a threat and a provocation.

“It’s all ready. A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year,” the source said, adding that the fourth nuclear test would be much larger than the third at an equivalent of 10 kilotons of TNT.

The tests will be undertaken, the source said, unless Washington holds talks with North Korea and abandons its policy of what Pyongyang sees as attempts at regime change.

North Korea also reiterated its long-standing desire for the United States to sign a final peace agreement with it and establish diplomatic relations, he said. The North remains technically at war with both the United States and South Korea after the Korean war ended in 1953 with a truce.

Initial estimates of this week’s test from South Korea’s military put its yield at the equivalent of 6-7 kilotons, although a final assessment of yield and what material was used in the explosion may be weeks away.

North Korea’s latest test, its third since 2006, prompted warnings from Washington and others that more sanctions would be imposed on the isolated state. The U.N. Security Council has only just tightened sanctions on Pyongyang after it launched a long-range rocket in December.

Given the reports about Chinese frustration with the North Koreans of late, it’s not surprising that Kim would take the step of giving the Chinese a heads-up about future plans, even at the risk of those plans leaking out to the general world. Indeed, the leaks themselves serve the general North Korean purpose of continuing to goad the U.S., South Korea, and Japan into, well, your guess is as good as mine. If recent history is any indication, though, it doesn’t strike me that Pyongyang is exactly engaging in a course of action designed to lead to success. If anything, they are more likely to cause all three nations to become more strident and increase tensions on the peninsula. Which may be what North Korea really wants after all.

In any case, I suppose we should keep our eyes on North Korea for awhile.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    I really wonder how long the Chinese can put up with this behavior? They have to be thinking the same thing I am – how long before something goes terribly wrong?

  2. Chris Berez says:

    in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, said a source with direct knowledge of the message.

    Translation: force the U.S. to give it food/aid, same as always when it comes to these little temper tantrums. We should continue to ignore them, much as a parent ignoring a child trying to get its way by throwing a fit in the candy aisle. Until North Korea takes steps to provokes an actual war, this should be China’s headache to deal with. Enough of this absurd song and dance.

    Of course I may be being incredibly naive. But that’s my solution. I don’t see anything gained by “returning to talks” for the umpteenth time.

  3. Jr says:

    As I have said before, NK trolling got tiresome 10 years ago.

  4. CB says:

    Didn’t they get the memo!?

  5. BIll says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    They have to be thinking the same thing I am – how long before something goes terribly wrong?

    Something has already gone terribly wrong in North Korea. It is called over 60 years of being ruled by the Kim family.

    Seriously this brinksmanship by the North Korean government is idiotic. They are risking intervention, which would either kill them or put them out of power. If NK kept quiet,Pyongyang can do whatever to their own citizens and other than SK and maybe China would give a damn.

  6. rudderpedals says:

    China could put an end to this right now.

  7. electroman says:

    They might nuke their own capitol city. Wink, wink; nudge, nudge.

  8. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @rudderpedals: Wow! Exactly how would that work–and before you answer, remember that there is no reliable evidence that China really wants to occupy and “nation build” in NK?

    In answer to Doug’s question, it is possible that NK is trying to create a situation where the US will negotiate a separate peace with NK and impose it on SK. I don’t see this happening, but when one wishes in one hand and [defecates] in the other, statistics dictate that, eventually, the wish hand will fill first.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    One concern of the Chinese is that the US will start building missile defense systems for our Asian allies, leading to destabilization.

  10. Kolohe says:

    How much nuke material does the DPRK actually have, and how many tests would it take until it’s all used up? My impression that the answer to each question was ‘not much’ and ‘not many’ but I could be widely mistaken.