Nuke Test Suggests Leadership Uncertainty
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2009 2:45 PM CDT
A South Korean official explains seismic waves created by North Korea's nuclear test and that of a natural earthquake.    (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – North Korea’s nuclear test today has spurred speculation that the desperate regime is seeking to fortify itself in anticipation of a potentially problematic succession of leadership, the New York Times reports. Experts believe North Korea is hoping to shore up the confidence of its own people, rather than squeeze concessions from the West—the aim of previous such gambits.

Conjecture surrounding North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s health suggest sthe regime is hoping to boost crucial support among the country’s military and impoverished peasantry. “Kim Jong Il wants to show that he has given his nation mighty nuclear power,” explains one security-policy researcher. “This test was absolutely a domestic demonstration.”