Perverse as it sounds, it should probably come as a relief to the Obama Administration that it has a
conventional nuclear weapons problem with North Korea, a country with a return address where the people who live at it are probably not suicidal psychopaths... and hence, perversely, it should be less worried about today's nuclear weapons test by North Korea. Have you lost your mind, TD?
My reflex is just to say "don't answer that!" Lookit: we are well aware that North Korea has nuclear weapons: it has already conducted a successful test. OK... now we really, really know? Sorry... one should be enough for whatever crazy ass scare value Kim Jong Il and the gang want. Fine, China, Russia, President Obama and everyone else rushed to condemn the blast. Great! So what? More sanctions? Isolate North Korea? Simple answer to North Korea: any proliferation of fissionable material anywhere in the world will be deemed your responsibility, as if Pyongyang launched the strike itself (i.e., the North Korean regime can expect massive retaliation up to probable obliteration should any terrorist group or any otherwise unexplained nuclear detonation happen anywhere on Earth. If such a message were seriously conveyed to Pyongyang... I think our concerns (not so much that DPRK would launch its own strike, but that it would sell fissionable material and weapons technology on the black market) would be addressed just as well. Just saying.
So... what remains troubling? That's right: either Iran, or Pakistan. First, Iran, where, although we know Ahmadinejad is not really in control of much, let alone Iran's nuclear program, and we are reasonably sure the ayatollahs really in charge don't want to die in a massive Israeli counter-strike should they acquire and try to use nuclear weapons... somehow, given how happy they are to have Ahmadinejad as a front-man, I'm just a little less convinced of their sanity than I am the North Koreans, who, let's face it, are pretty much just holding out for a bigger bribe.
And the real wild card, and most dangerous situation on Earth, remains the Taliban and Pakistan and Pakistan's nuclear weapons: there's a bunch of bastards that have never given anyone a reason to trust their rationality, ever.
So... of all of these issues, it seems to me, that North Korea is by far the least worrisome. The fact is, on that one, Obama will find most of his options reduced pretty much to "whatever China wants." Which, at least, makes one's life a bit easier. OTOH, an open channel to China re: Pakistan and its nukes would be extremely useful right now, as China also pretty much holds the keys to that... situation... as well. Make the call, Barack... try to ignore the highly unreliable "Mr. 10%" Zardari... the key to Rawalpindi is in Beijing.
Just another day in the Oval Office, I suppose... so many possible catastrophes, so little time...