Lil' Kim Doubles Down on a Nuclear Strategy
1 | NORTH KOREA
The fading hopes that young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might put his pariah regime on a path to reform were demolished Feb. 12 with the force of a six-megaton explosion. Facing growing isolation, Kim took a page out of his father Kim Jong Il's playbook and went nuclear, detonating the country's third atomic device, after similar tests in 2006 and 2009. North Korea's state news service said the underground detonation was meant "to defend the country's security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the U.S."--a reference to U.N. sanctions that were tightened last month after a North Korean satellite launch.
The nuclear test was denounced by world leaders; the U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned the act and agreed to consider additional measures to thwart North Korea. But there is little that hasn't been tried to stop the Hermit Kingdom's long campaign to build nukes--and nothing has worked. North Korea said the latest device tested was small and light, raising fears that it could soon build a warhead that would threaten its neighbors or even the U.S. And Pyongyang said its nuclear devices had "become diversified," a hint that the nation may be moving on to using highly enriched uranium. That would give it a huge supply of fissile material and make controlling its nuclear program even harder.
Any hope of corralling North Korea rests with China, its chief aid donor and longtime ally. This latest nuclear test occurred in the middle of a major Chinese leadership transition and its biggest national holiday. Will China's next President, Xi Jinping, put more pressure on Pyongyang than his predecessors did? Last month China joined the rest of the U.N. Security Council in voting to tighten existing sanctions. Beijing summoned Pyongyang's ambassador to complain about the recent detonation, but the wording of its condemnation was almost identical to its statements after previous nuclear tests. China fears a North Korean collapse, which could lead to a flood of refugees and a unified, pro-U.S. Korea on China's border. North Korea knows this and remains characteristically unbowed, promising "stronger, second and third responses" if the U.S. pushes for further U.N. sanctions. Far from reforming, Kim Jong Un is doubling down on his father's nuclear gamble.
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Caught in the Act
2 | FRANCE
Scrabble-playing Thomas Thévenoud is just the latest French Parliament member to be photographed doing nonwork on a mobile computer now that wi-fi has been unblocked during sessions.
He openly admitted to playing the game during a gay-marriage debate, but he said the fact that he scored 102 points at 3 a.m. was a reassuring sign; in his defense, the bill passed
He admitted he had been "nabbed" during a lengthy debate
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