CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour says North Korea has moved progressively toward obtaining a nuclear weapon for years, having kicked nuclear inspectors out of the country—at about the same time the U.S. was planning to invade Iraq.
Christiane says that a nuclear armed North Korea poses a very real threat to their neighbors in Asia, the United States and the West. "This has changed the equation and changed the balance of reality. Now it's impossible to turn that clock back," Christiane says. "The question is, how does one deal with it?"
Following the test, the United States imposed economic sanctions, which restrict trade with North Korea—most notably on iPods, cognac, Harley-Davidsons and other super-luxury goods favored by Kim Jong Il—but still leave open the possibility of military action in the future. In November 2006, North Korea agreed to return to diplomatic discussions.
With an already closed society, will sanctions be enough? "This seems to be, at the moment, the only option that is available," she says. "Experts believe that there has been a considerable failure of diplomacy by the United States and the West. Actions taken over the last several years by the United States and the West have exacerbated the situation. Now we are in a situation where there is a potentially dangerous dictator who has potential nuclear weapons capability."