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Is North Korea Losing China?

DENVER – For most countries, the spectacular failure of a rocket launch would mean a return to the drawing board, or at least some introspection aimed at figuring out what went wrong. But that does not appear to be the case in North Korea, where the flubbed launch of its long-range Unha-3 rocket has merely set the stage for a new level of defiance: the detonation of yet another nuclear device, perhaps bigger than in the past.

The world, it seems, must be shown that North Korean scientists, despite their dearth of success in producing food, have mastered how to produce a weapon of mass destruction. And such a demonstration might well be needed to confer legitimacy on the newly installed third-generation leader, Kim Jong-un, a boy-dictator whose only accomplishment to date has been to prove on television that he can ride a horse, and that he appears to know how to read.