Feb. 1, 2013 – South Korea assumes presidency of the Security Council for February as the threat of another nuclear test by North Korea looms.
A confluence of events make February a ripe month for Pyongyang to consider conducting its third nuclear test. That Seoul is presiding over the body that has already passed two rounds of international sanctions against it is reason enough but there are two other events this month that North Korea may well mark with an expression of its defiance of the international community.
Late leader Kim Jong Il’s birthday falls on Feb 16 and the inauguration of South Korea’s president-elect Park Geun-hye takes place Feb 25. In a Jan 25 letter to the Security Council, North Korea gave note of its intention to “bolster the military capabilities for self-defence, including the nuclear deterrence, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to cope with the ever more undisguised moves of the United States.”
Pyongyang has in the past shown a preference to act on holidays. It conducted its first nuclear test on Oct 9, 2006, timed to mar Columbus Day celebrations in the U.S., a second nuclear test on Memorial Day 2009, and a missile test – contravening Council resolution 1874 – on July 4, 2009.
The Council expanded sanctions against North Korea last month over its failed Dec 2012 missile launch. Pyongyang condemned the move and in the Jan 25 letter stated that, “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will continuously launch satellites for peaceful purposes to conquer space and become a world-level power.”
– Denis Fitzgerald