By all accounts, the North Korean missile test was a significant technical milestone in the advancement of the country's arsenal. Jonathan Pollack wonders whether the test will strain the Hermit Kingdom's ties to China:
The bigger risks for Pyongyang concern its relations with China. The US, Japan, and South Korea have already called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, since the North’s test are in direct violation of Resolutions 1718 and 1874, which prohibit North Korea from undertaking any rocket tests “using ballistic missile technology.” Since North Korea announced on December 1 that it would attempt another satellite launch, there have been persistent reports that the Obama Administration would seek to impose even harsher sanctions, even though North Korea is probably already the world’s most heavily sanctioned state. The US thus seems very likely to put great pressure on China to agree to additional sanctions. In recent weeks, the Chinese have openly cautioned the North Koreans from undertaking another test, without signaling what China would do should Pyongyang decide to test. Beijing’s first comments on the test had an ominous tone: “all parties concerned should stay cool headed and refrain from stoking the flames so as to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.” How China chooses to respond will be the first foreign policy challenge for the newly installed Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.Just a guess, but chances are the response will be in keeping with previous episodes. There will be a pro-forma denunciation from the United States and allied powers, a bland reproach from China and then everyone will quickly look the other way until the next provocation.