CNN is reporting that North Korea has admitted to possessing working nuclear weapons and may test them in the near future.
The DPRK is seeming more and more desperate to draw concessions from the US, while the US is staying fast. The US is demanding an aggressive inspections regime to determine the disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal while the North Korean government is demanding that the US sign a non-aggression pact with the DPRK.
This situation is largely sabre-rattling and little else. The Koreans know that despite their nuclear advantage, they’re unlikely to get any major concessions. Furthermore, the Chinese are already taking notice of the situation and working with the US to remove nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula. The only option the Koreans have is using their nuclear weapons, which would result in the immediate nuclear destruction of most of the country by either the United States or China, or potentially both. That is not a situation that benefits the North Koreans, or anyone else.
At the end of the day, the DPRK will likely settle for what they can get. The US isn’t going to engage the DPRK militarily, especially with nuclear weapons in the picture. The Koreans will have to accept the terms of China and the US. Nuking Seoul is suicide, and intransigence on this issue won’t get them what they want. This is classic Korean brinksmanship – taking an argument as far as they dare then backing down and finding compromise. The US and China need only stand firm and the situation will likely die down.