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Slate: First, Take a Deep Breath

Author: Fred Kaplan, Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow
May 26, 2009


President Barack Obama shouldn't respond too quickly, or too aggressively, to the North Korean nuclear test.

So North Korea has tested a nuclear bomb. What should President Barack Obama do about it? Ideally, nothing. A shrug may be the response that Kim Jong-il fears most.

This, after all, was only the second A-bomb that Pyongyang has ever tested. (The first was in October 2006.) And a recent long-range missile test, last April, seems to have been a dud-as were both of the other such tests it's attempted in the past decade. If the big fear is that this loathsome dictatorship might fit a nuclear warhead onto a missile with the range to hit Japan or beyond, the worry seems premature by many years.

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