How Likely Is Second North Korea Nuke Test?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," October 18, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: How likely is a second North Korean nuclear weapons test? Here now is Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, co-author of the book "Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security."

So, Michael, do you figure that they're going to light another one off because the secretary is over there?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, John, they have two big arguments to confront, and they pull in opposite directions, so I think it's tough to predict.

On the one hand, they want to make sure their bombs work and they also want to show they're not intimidated by this strong international response.

On the other hand, they don't want to make Secretary Rice's job any easier. And the U.S. has had a pretty good two weeks diplomatically after this North Korean test. It finally was the straw that broke the camel's back, even in China and South Korea.

We know they're not anxious in China or South Korea to put on really tough sanctions, but at least they are doing something now when for the last few years they haven't really given North Korea any punishment for its nuclear shenanigans. So North Korea has to worry that a second test would strengthen the coalition acting against it even more. I don't know how Kim Jong Il is going to decide. It could go either way.

GIBSON: Michael, do sanctions do anything?

O'HANLON: Yes, they do. Over time — look at Libya. The Bush administration has a good argument that they were somewhat successful in convincing Gadhafi to give up his weapons of mass destruction program. Now, certainly, the invasion of Iraq a few hundred miles away might have been a contributing factor but the world had had very tough sanctions on Libya for 15 years, the world as a whole.

And at the end, Gadhafi decided, you know, I need the oil trade more than I need those sanctions — or, I'm sorry, more than I need those weapons. And so there's a chance that if you structure the incentives correctly for the North Koreans — and we tried to lay out an agenda for how to do this in our book "Hard Power" — there's a chance that the North Koreans could come around. It takes awhile.

GIBSON: Michael O'Hanlon, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

O'HANLON: Thanks, John.

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