The communist regime of North Korea is apparently satisfied with the results of its nuclear test. The low yield of 0.6kt suggests faulty assembly, and North Korea’s intent to conduct a second nuclear test confirms the failure of the first.

A country that has almost completed its nuclear weapons program has no reason to stop just before the finish. The UN has substantially exhausted its arsenal of sanctions. The second test won’t make North Korea’s situation any worse. The cowardly West won’t attack North Korea’s nuclear installations.

For China, returning North Korea to the talks is a matter of re-establishing Chinese credibility as regional hegemon. A Chinese diplomatic failure would spell more Japanese involvement in the region and probably cause Japan to develop nuclear capability and the US to beef up its armed forces in the Chinese sphere of influence.

The Chinese hardly convinced the North Koreans to resume talks with the carrot of economic aid. North Korea could surely get more aid from the US in return for concessions. Two options are likely. China can offer North Korea technological assistance to correct the nuclear bomb assembly errors. That way, North Korea doesn’t need a second test: the Chinese will make sure North Korean nuclear weapons are in good working order. Another option is the Chinese convince North Korea to drag the talks out, a typically Chinese approach. Under the cover of international negotiations, North Korea will continue its nuclear program.

North Korea takes the PR lead. It is a strong nuclear state yet shows the will to negotiate peacefully with international community.The predictable failure of indecisive talks will be blamed on the US. Sanctions after the talks fail will be attributed to America’s cowboy foreign policy. Vietnamese communists used that tactic with great success during their war with America.

The US could play that game and talk nicely to North Korea during the endless diplomatic rounds. Just destroy the North Korean nuclear facilities first.