A vicious storm swept through the Korean Peninsula a few weeks ago, leaving flood and devastation in its week. Because it has been weakened by decades of brutal totalitarianism, North Korea suffered mightily. Kim Jong Il's functionaries persist in claiming only 151 deaths with 39 more people missing, but one South Korean charity estimates the death toll to be closer to 55,000. Only begrudgingly has the North accepted aid from the Red Cross.
Now, intelligence suggests that Kim Jong Il is planning an underground nuclear test:
Activity at a North Korean facility suggests Pyongyang could be preparing its first test of a nuclear bomb, US media has cited US officials as saying.
But US officials told Reuters they had no new evidence of such a plan, and a diplomatic official in Seoul familiar with the North's nuclear program said he was sceptical of the reports.
ABC News quoted an unidentified senior military official as saying a US intelligence agency had observed "suspicious vehicle movement" at a suspected North Korean test site.
A senior State Department official, who was also not identified, told the network: "It is the view of the intelligence community that a test is a real possibility."
In light of the suffering in North Korea, no doubt Kim Jong Il needs a political distraction to maintain his regime's survival. But he also has customers to serve, and no doubt they would be very interested in purchasing successful nuclear weapon technology.