Tigerhawk asks:

Another question: The North Koreans have humiliated China, which issued a statement on Sunday that a North Korean nuclear test “could not be tolerated.” This is where we learn what kind of dragon China really is. Meanwhile, Japan is going to get even jumpier. With the war generation all but dead and buried, will this be the flipping of the switch in Japanese opinion that gets that country marching in a new direction?

As I noted in my facetious suggestion that Dear Leader be awarded the Olympic Games in exchange for giving up his nukes, China has a lot to lose if North Korea continues down the road to nuclear weapons.

South Korea has the most to lose if Dear Leader decides to reunite Korea. An anti-missile system doesn’t help South Korea much; North Korea can deliver a nuke to Seoul in a conventional artillery and rocket barrage. South Korea’s only defense is good old M.A.D. So that means that an economically advanced country has a strong incentive to go nuclear.

Japan has already had a Nork missile lobbed over its air space. It sure doesn’t want those missiles tipped with a nuke. A missile defense system would help Japan. But everyone knows that you can’t win by playing defense. Count another nuclear power in China’s backyard.

Russia wouldn’t be happy with South Korea and Japan becoming nuclear powers. Its Eastern seaboard is tough enough to defend without four nuclear powers squabbling on its border.

So, where does that leave Uncle Sam? The North Koreans could send a missile or two our way but our missile defense systems are good enough to deal with that threat. The biggest problem is the transfer of North Korean nuclear weapons and technology to state sponsors of terrorism, like Iran. Its neighbor’s will pay close attention to anything shipped by land. Given that the North Koreans have broken virtually every agreement they ever signed, the US and its allies will likely get UN permission to monitor North Korean shipping. With enough pressure, the US should be able to get North Korean’s neighbors to deny them overflight permission. In other words, sanctions can keep North Korea bottled up.

The Bush administration’s strategy of working with North Korea’s neighbors is the right approach. China, South Korea, Japan and Russia have more to lose than the US in the short term. China and South Korea have the most leverage. Bush should toss the ball in their court.