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(NK N-test) N. Korea's nuclear test reflects young leader's confidence
By Kim Young-gyo
HONG KONG, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's nuclear test in defiance of international pressure has reflected the confidence of the regime's young leader, a British analyst said Tuesday.

   "(North Korea) is certainly developing a more open and more confident approach to international relations," said Charles Vyvyan, a recognized authority on defense strategy. He has provided a senior advisory role to government and commercial organizations in Europe and the U.S.

   In a year or so after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un has shown an unexpected confidence in establishing his position, Vyvyan said.

   "Kim has put himself out and about more, he has engaged with the population, he has shown himself to be an independent and decisive leader with a human face and an attractive wife," the defense advisor said.

   "He has emphasized the need for economic regeneration and, to a certain extent, freed up the internal markets."

   These attitudes are echoed by many of those who recently visit the country -- such as Google Inc.'s Eric Schmidt who reported to be much impressed with the industrial policies and investment opportunities there, the analyst said.

   The North will continue with its research and development on nuclear programs, Vyvyan predicted.

   "North Korea remains firmly committed to the achievement of a nuclear capability whatever the cost in either human or economic terms -- indeed last year it modified its constitution to identify itself already as a 'nuclear-armed nation.'"

   The regime will continue to maintain that it has a sovereign right to develop a nuclear program, which is for civil or military purposes.

   "The more impediments that are put in its way, the more determined it is to do so. And once committed to this course of action, it makes sense for it to test its technology," Vyvyan said.

   "It seems likely that North Korea has managed to enrich some uranium to the extent that it can now produce a uranium-based device."

   However, the strategic analyst emphasized that North Korea's nuclear weapons research and development is at an early stage and that its current capability presents no threat to the U.S. and only a modest threat to regional countries.

   "It does not affect the current levels of stability in the region. But taken together with other developments in the country, it might encourage the U.S. to re-think its strategy," he said, adding that the U.S. may need to shift from a policy of 'strategic patience' to a more forward policy of active engagement.