Jackie Northam: Iran Watches with Interest
Michele Kelemen: The U.N. Debate
Analysis: N. Korea and China
The U.N. Security Council is debating a U.S.-drafted resolution that would require international inspections of all cargo moving in and out of North Korea in response to the nation's apparent nuclear-weapons test. The resolution would also ban all trade with the country in military goods and services.
Divisions appear to be emerging, however, among the countries with the most at stake in the discussions.
In Tokyo on Tuesday, Finance Minister Koji Omi said that Japan would consider imposing more financial sanctions on North Korea.
Japan's new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said quick action is needed if it turns out a test has, in fact, taken place.
And Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, declared Tuesday that his government was considering "all possibilities."
But China and South Korea say they would oppose the use of military force.
China, a key player in the negotiations, has called for a "firm, constructive, appropriate but prudent response" to North Korea's action.
Liu Jianchao, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday that the possibility of military action is "unimaginable."
NPR's Louisa Lim, who attended the Beijing press conference, says that officials did not rule out the possibility of sanctions, and there was the sense that China may be persuaded to adopt "limited, tailored, symbolic" measures. But, Lim reports, there's no way China will back any action that might lead to the collapse of the regime in Pyongyang. She adds, Chinese officials conceded Tuesday that the reported nuclear test has had a "negative impact" on relations between Beijing and Pyongyang.
Meanwhile, South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun spent the day conferring with top advisers. NPR's Michael Sullivan, who's in Seoul, says that President Roh is likely "feeling burned" by North Korea's aggressive move.
Roh has staunchly backed a "sunshine policy" of engagement with the North. But now that the North appears to have tested a nuclear device, Sullivan reports that newspapers are slamming Roh for what they're calling a failed strategy.
"The sunshine policy is not dead yet," Sullivan reports. "But it will likely get a makeover."
In Washington and New York, the Bush administration is rejecting the idea of direct talks with North Korea.
"This is the way North Korea typically negotiates -- by threat and intimidation," said John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. "It's worked for them before. It won't work for them now."
White House spokesman Tony Snow is playing down the significance of North Korea's apparent nuclear test. Snow told reporters at the White House that North Korea is claiming to have detonated a nuclear weapon only two years after expelling international weapons inspectors.
"You seriously believe that they have actually done everything within two years?" Snow asked. "You could have something that is very old and off the shelf here."
Analysts are still poring over intelligence data on the North Korean test, trying to determine the size and cause of the North Korea explosion.
"It's going to take some more time to draw a clear picture of what transpired here," a U.S. official told NPR on Tuesday.
"This test registered a yield of several hundred tons as opposed to several kilotons, as you would expect," the official said. "Now, there could be a number of reasons. One is that it was a failed test. Or, it could have been a successful test that registered smaller, if it was conducted in a cavernous area that had a muffling impact on the shockwave."
"More likely than not, it's the first scenario," the official added.
There is some speculation that North Korea may be planning a second test.
One former intelligence official tells NPR, "That's definitely a possibility, particularly if this one didn't work like they thought it would. They'll want to figure out what went wrong."
But the current U.S. official says, "We can't rule out the possibility of a second test in the works, but there's no evidence to support (that theory)."