North Korea renewed a nuclear test ban treaty with Japan in 2002. North Korea claims "the right of autonomy" and insists that any test "is not bound by any statement such as the Pyongyang Declaration and last September's joint statement at the six-way talks."
The US interceptor system has been in developmental for years. Nine missles are based in Fort Greeley, Alaska and two are at Vandenberg Air Force Base California. In eight tests, the interceptor has succeeded five times.
In a show of counter-force, two US Navy Aegis warships "are patrolling near North Korea as part of the global missile defense," according to the Washington Times. Reportedly, the US is conducting a training exercise in the western Pacific that includes "22,000 troops and three aircraft carriers."
China has asked North Korea not to violate the test ban. An aide to the Russian President said, "Let them launch it first and then we will see whether it will fly, where it will fly, and whether it can reach its target in the first place."
Back At Home, It's "Do As I Say"
Two US labs are competing to create new nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Weapons Council will pick the winner later this year. Congress approved developing the new bomb in 2005. The goal is to replace 6,000 existing nuclear warheads, "which will become potentially unreliable within 15 years."
The prospect of new nuclear weapons has been criticized because it could lead to the US violating nuclear test ban treaties and encourage other nations to jump into a new nuclear arms race. This makes our reaction to North Korea's possible test look like "do as I say not as I do."
The US is the world's largest exporter of arms. After 9-11, the Bush Administration lifted restrictions on "military aid and arms sales to formerly off-limits regimes... the U.S. has sold weapons or training to almost 90% of the countries it has identified as harboring terrorists."