The United States must move quickly and effectively to prevent two worse crises that may result from North Korea's nuclear test.  The U.S. should strive to maintain a strong international consensus to prevent both a regional nuclear arms race and a further emboldened Iran.

First, the U.S. must drive regional co-operation between China, South Korea, and Japan to reduce the possibility of a nuclear proliferation chain reaction that would further threaten East Asian security. 

“These countries must take up the difficult task of determining what the new objective should be toward North Korea — is it to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program, to limit the size of its arsenal, to limit its capacity to deliver its weapons on missiles, to prevent further proliferation of nuclear materials or technology to other states or terrorist groups, to isolate them further, or to change the existing regime?,” said George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies and Director of the Nonproliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Stepped-up efforts from the South Koreans and Japanese will be equally important as they will influence China's own calculations,” added Perkovich, who wrote a Proliferation Analysis on this issue.  “The United States and China will have to work together to identify a common bottom line. With China's tough response and a restrained reaction from the United States, there may be an opportunity to do that as both parties move towards the middle.”

Second, the International Community must realize that the test has far-reaching implications that go far beyond the Asian region and include Iran and its nuclear ambitions.

“Iranian hardliners will be watching to see whether there is any effective international reaction against North Korea,” Perkovich said.  “It is very important that Russia and China — due to their involvement in the North Korean talks and as veto wielding members of the Security Council — make sure that whatever signal is sent to North Korea is one that inspires caution within Iran.”

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,, is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910, its work is nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results.

The Nonproliferation Project,, at the Carnegie Endowment has been a leading source of information and analysis on global proliferation trends and nonproliferation policies for more than 20 years.  The non-partisan Project seeks to prevent the use and spread of nuclear weapons and materials by supporting a rule-based system of international security. The Project publishes Proliferation News, a twice weekly e-newsletter providing links to important news stories on nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, plus issue briefs on hot topics.  The next Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference will be held April 30-May 1, 2007, at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, DC, and will focus on presenting solutions to the challenges confronting the nonproliferation regime.

George Perkovich is Vice President for Studies – Global Security and Economic Development at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  His personal research concentrates on nuclear strategy and nonproliferation, with a focus on Iran.

U.S. Leadership with China, South Korea and Japan Key to Containing Nuclear Chain Reaction, Proliferation Analysis, by George Perkovich

Marc Osgoode Smith, Communications Director
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