Though North Korea has previously said it possesses nuclear bombs -- U.S. intelligence officials have estimated it could have as many as 11 -- a test detonation would dramatically change the region's power dynamics. Analysts have said the United States and area neighbors including China, Japan and South Korea would be forced to deal far more harshly with the North Koreans.
John Kerry issued the following statement today on North Korea's ultimatum:
“North Korea’s declared intention to test a nuclear weapon is a potentially deadly security threat that should have been taken extremely seriously long ago,” said Senator John Kerry, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “This administration’s tough talk and weak actions have allowed the nuclear threat from North Korea to grow ever more dire. Secretary Rice’s description of this development as “provocative” is this Administration’s latest attempt to downplay the threat in order to deflect attention from their failed policy. The facts speak for themselves. This Administration must stop dithering while Pyongyang advances its deadly arsenal. History shows that there’s no turning back if North Korea actually tests a nuclear weapon. The world will be a much more dangerous place if this ruthless dictatorship, which Donald Rumsfeld described yesterday as “an active proliferator,” has proven nuclear weapons that could be sold to a hostile regime or terrorists. This Administration must acknowledge reality and start showing the leadership necessary to get some results before it’s too late.”