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The insider's guide: North Korea's nuclear test

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(CNN) -- North Korea said Monday it had conducted a successful underground nuclear test. CNN's Adrian Finighan spoke to Peter Beck, North East Asia Director of the International Crisis Group, about the implications of the claim.

We spoke earlier to former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright who said North Korea was not seeking further escalation but was "responding from a corner." Do you concur with that?

Beck: They're in a corner but I think they are escalating [the situation.] Certainly military conflict would mean the end of the regime, but I think until they get the response they want from Washington they're going to keep escalating.

So this a bargaining chip then to gain some sort of leverage with Washington?

Beck: Yes and no. During the Clinton administration it would have been a bargaining chip, but since the Bush administration didn't respond in the way they wanted to the missile launch in a more agreeable manner I'm not sure we can see it as a bargaining chip. It's more an act of defiance: if you're going to make life tough for us we're going to make life tough for you.

What do you make of the size of the explosion? It's being reported that the size of the explosion beneath North Korea would be the test equivalent of 550 tons of TNT. That sounds a lot but it's actually a device smaller than the two devices dropped on Japan at the end of World War Two.

Beck: Well, we've been expecting that North Korea could make a very crude device of the type that was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I haven't been privy to anything that they were going to test or have indeed tested.

What more can the international community do as far as North Korea is concerned? It could hardly be anymore isolated could it?

Beck: No -- when you have the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, canceling a visit to your country then you know you're really isolated. But they've dealt with this isolation before and they seem willing to live with it. I think we have to see how China takes this. China is certainly not going to be happy but now China has to decide whether it is really in their interests to get tough with North Korea and cut off, at least temporarily, fuel and food shipments.

And how important is the international response now as far as sending a message to other potential nuclear states, Iran, for instance?

Beck: Well certainly I'm sure the Iranian government is watching this very closely to see how it unfolds. So it's very important the international community speaks with one voice. But unfortunately Washington and Seoul have not been able to coordinate their carrots and sticks and until they do I think we are going to be struggling to find an effective strategy for dealing with North Korea.


Commuters in the South Korean capital Seoul watch TV coverage of the claimed test by the North.

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