In English slang, “pickle” means a bad situation or a state of disorder. The provenance is Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” And pickle well applies to the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, Iran and U.S. policy.
Last week, Pyongyang announced it had exploded a nuclear device measuring about 10 kilotons, smaller than the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. How close North Korea is to “weaponizing” a bomb is unknowable as is whether this test remains a highly dangerous science experiment.
Despite the huff and puff of the second Bush administration over preventing North Korea from exploding a nuclear device, today no one seems terribly perturbed. China is in a key position to restrain North Korea but hasn’t so acted. While Japan and South Korea have a nuclear “breakout” capacity, there are no signs that an arms race will follow.
So, no matter the rhetoric, North Korea has become the newest, uncontested member of the nuclear club nearly two decades after Pakistan joined.