World will be forced into coexistence with nuclear-armed N Korea

North Korea expert Ankit Panda tells that amid recent development there’s little chance that diplomacy will be revived, whether North Korea tests a nuclear bomb is more a matter of when rather than if.

The timing of that test is the million-dollar question that government leaders, military planners, and people on the Korean Peninsula and beyond are asking of Kim Jong Un — North Korea’s 38-year-old “supreme leader” whose finger is on the button.

In the past two weeks, Pyongyang has conducted seven launches of short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, including one that flew over Japan.

In March, North Korea launched a Hwasong-17, dubbed the “Monster Missile” by some.The largest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched by North Korea, the Hwasong cruised at high altitude for more than 67 minutes before splashing down 1,090km (677 miles) away in the Sea of Japan.

Pyongyang defends its weapons programme and missile launches as a legitimate means of defence against what it sees as a decades-old threat from the United States.The unprecedented number of missiles fired recently has led to an escalation in tensions not seen in several years between North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the US.

An expert on North Korea and its weapons programme, Ankit Panda is currently a Stanton senior fellow in the nuclear policy programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.

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