According to CNN report on May 25, "President Obama castigated the North Korean government Monday for conducting a second nuclear bomb test in defiance of multiple international warnings." Many analysts and experts are not only suprised, they predicted this would be North Korea's next step. "Pyongyang's eagerness to conduct a nuclear test so quickly after its long-range missile launch shows it has abandoned its previous façade of negotiations and is instead striving to achieve a viable nuclear weapon and ICBM delivery capability," argues Bruce Klingner, a Northeast Asia regional expert, at The Heritage Foundation, "The rapid pace of Pyongyang's provocations since January indicates it has altered its objectives and is no longer responsive to diplomatic entreaties. International diplomatic pressure was unable to prevent North Korea from launching a Taepo Dong-2 missile in April. The paltry sanctions subsequently imposed by the UN Security Council for North Korea's violating UN Resolutions 1695 and 1718 were insufficient to deter Pyongyang from its nuclear test."
In "America's North Korea Policy: Adding Lanes to the Road," Klingner argued even before this latest provocation that it was time for the United States to rethink its North Korea policy. "Despite public perceptions of a major U.S. policy shift toward North Korea, President Obama is continuing the Bush engagement strategy. The Six-Party Talks should not be the only venue for U.S.-North Korean engagement," Klingner concludes, "[a] more comprehensive strategy would offer Pyongyang a path to greater economic and diplomatic benefits while continuing to insist on compliance, conditionality, reciprocity, and verification." Among the proposals he makes in an extensive analysis of recent US diplomatic efforts is that: (1) [I]t has never been a question of whether to engage North Korea, but of how to do so. It is critical to understand that engagement is a means rather than an end, and it is equally important to control how engagement is applied. For the time being, the U.S. should continue diplomatic attempts to reduce the North Korean nuclear threat. The likelihood for success, though, is not high; (2) [w]hile the U.S. should continue to strive for a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear threat, employing a combination of all instruments of national power, the Obama Administration should also accept that there simply may be no set of inducements to ensure North Korean abandonment of its nuclear weapons; (3) [t]he U.S. should establish non-flexible deadlines so that Pyongyang cannot continue to drag out negotiations. In addition, it would be prudent for Washington to initiate contingency plans with South Korea and Japan should the Six-Party Talks no longer seem to be a viable policy option.