중앙통신은 “구체적 과업”에 대해 자세하게 언급하지 않았지만, 최근 강력한 핵실험 의지 시사로 비추어 볼 때, 핵실험과 관련된 과업으로 추정된다. 전문가들은 국제적 고립 가능성에도 불구하고, 북한이 새로운 협상 판을 자신에게 유리한 방향으로 짜기 위해 벼랑 끝 외교전술을 쓰고 있다고 지적했다.
북한은 12월 장거리 로켓발사를 비난하는 안보리 결의안이 채택된 지난 수요일 이후, 호전적인 성명을 쏟아 내고 있다. 23일에는 3차 핵실험 의지를 나타냈고, 이튿날에는 로켓개발과 핵 실험이 미국을 겨냥한 것이라고 위협했다. 26일 북한 노동당 기관지인 로동신문은 “핵실험은 민심의 요구하는 것으로 그 밖에 다른 길은 없다"고 주장하는 논평을 게재했다.
김용현 동국대 북한학과 교수는, 27일 조선중앙통신 “단호한 결심” 보도와 함께 최근 북한이 말로 할 수 있는 최고 수위의 발언들을 쏟아내고 있다고 지적하면서, 앞으로 국제사회가 북한의 요구대로 행동하지 않을 경우 핵실험을 강행하겠다는 단호한 의지의 표현이라고 분석했다.
같은 학과 고유환 교수는 최근 유엔 제재는 12월 성공적인 로켓발사를 국민적 지지를 얻고, 지도력을 강화하는 도구로 사용하는 북한에 있어서 “재를 뿌리는” 것이라고 지적하며 핵실험을 강행할 것이라 주장했다.
한편 국가정보원 산하 국가안보전략연구소는 27일 북한이 박근혜 정부에 대한 '길들이기' 전략의 하나로 대남 도발을 감행할 가능성이 있다고 전망했다.
국가안보전략연구소는 이날 발간한 '2012년도 정세평가와 2013년도 전망' 보고서에서 북한은 새 정부의 대북정책이 가시화되기 전까지는 관망세를 취하다가 자신들의 요구에 맞지 않으면 도발도 불사할 것이라며 이같이 내다봤다. (코리아헤럴드 송상호 기자)
<영문 기사>N.K. leader hints at ordering nuclear test
By Song Sang-ho
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has expressed his stern determination to take “real, high-intensity, significant” national measures, its state media said Sunday, ratcheting up its nuclear threat.
From hinting at a third nuclear test to stating the U.S. as its military target, Pyongyang has hardened its bellicose rhetoric since Wednesday, when the U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution to condemn its December rocket launch.
Experts said despite the risk of deeper isolation, the North resorted to its brinkmanship tactics again to raise the stakes in future negotiations with Washington, Seoul, and other concerned parties and make the negotiating environment more favorable.
“Regarding the recent grave circumstances surrounding our country (North Korea), a meeting of officials on national security and foreign affairs was held. There, First (National Defense Commission) Chairman Kim Jong-un put forward concrete tasks to each official,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency said.
The state-run agency did not elaborate on the “concrete” tasks, but observers said they might be associated with preparations for a third nuclear test given that Pyongyang has vowed to strengthen “nuclear deterrence.”
Among the participants in the meeting were Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the General Political Bureau; Hyon Yong-chol, chief of the military’s general staff; Kim Won-hong, head of the State Security Department; and First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan.
Since Wednesday, Pyongyang has issued a series of provocative statements hinting at another nuclear test. Seoul believes the North has already completed preparations for another underground test at the Punggye-ri test site in the country’s northeast, where it carried out two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Last Wednesday, the North’s foreign ministry warned of “physical action” to strengthen self-defense capabilities including nuclear deterrence. The following day, its powerful NDC said the North’s future rocket and nuclear tests may directly target the U.S.
On Saturday, the Rodong Sinmun, the ruling Workers’ Party’s daily, said, “Based on public demand, Pyongyang does not have any other choice.” It stressed the public called for carrying out what was even stronger than a nuclear test.
Kim Yong-hyun, North Korea expert at Dongguk University, said that the series of statements indicated that Pyongyang was striving to forge a new environment in which they can gain more concessions from the international community.
“Sunday’s KCNA statement appears to include the strongest expression that well explains the characteristics of its brinkmanship diplomacy. Through it, it is saying if the international community moves against its interests, it will push ahead with the nuclear test,” he said.
“But under the current circumstances following the adoption of the new UNSC resolution, it may not be easy for the North to expect the U.S. and South Korea to make any conciliatory move to benefit it in any way.”
Koh Yoo-hwan, another expert at the university, also said that Pyongyang now seeks to up the ante, stressing that Pyongyang is likely to push for another nuclear test.
“The North Korean regime capitalized on the successful launch of the rocket in December to gain public support and strengthen its leadership. But from its perspective, the U.N. sanctions could be perceived as a slap in the face,” he said.
“It is showing that it is pushing for a nuclear test based on the public demand. It could carry out the test, given that not doing it when it has trumpeted the test would make the young leader lose face.”
Meanwhile, the state-run Institute for National Security Strategy predicted that Pyongyang could launch additional provocations in order to “tame” the incoming Park Geun-hye government.
In a report on the review of security conditions in 2012 and prediction of security challenges this year, the institute said that Pyongyang might have a “wait-and-see” stance until Park presents a concrete policy line, and could opt to launch provocations if the policy does not turn out to be favorable for its national interest.