North Korea Conducts 5th Nuclear Test; Status Quo Woefully Ineffective

North Korea’s fifth nuclear test proves the status quo is not working.


James McKeon
202.546.0795 x 2617

Washington, DC – Early reports of irregular seismic activity have been detected in North Korea, indicating a likely nuclear weapons test. If reports are accurate, this will be Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test and the country’s second of 2016. The potential test follows a series of provocative ballistic missile tests conducted by North Korea, and coincides with the country’s founding date.

While North Korea has received wide-spread condemnation and increased sanctions pressure from the international community in response to its destabilizing behavior, this test, if confirmed, indicates the ineffectiveness of the status quo.

“Sanctions alone are not going to stop the North’s nuclear program, which has increased its capabilities despite past rounds of sanctions,” stated Jim Walsh, an international security expert at MIT and member of Council for a Livable World’s board. “New sanctions that threaten to undermine the overall Korean economy carry real humanitarian and political risk. We have to be smarter about disrupting North Korean procurement, and we have to match those efforts with a political strategy that includes working with allies and negotiations.”

Former U.S. Congressman John Tierney, Executive Director of both the Center and Council, added:

The status quo is not working and tough talk and sanctions alone have done little to deter North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Time is not on our side, this issue will not resolve itself.”

Experts at the Center and Council have urged the President to pursue, in addition to sanctions, multilateral negotiations with the initial purpose of freezing North Korea’s nuclear program.

Diplomatic engagement is the only tool capable of quelling the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear arsenal,” said Lt. General Robert Gard, a 31-year veteran of the US Army and the Center’s Chair Emeritus. “The U.S. should look to facilitate renewed negotiations with North Korea, either by restarting the Six Party Talks or through a new, multilateral initiative.”

The Six Party Talks, which featured the United States, Russia, China, Japan and both Koreas, have not been held since negotiations collapsed in 2009.


Dr. Jim Walsh, Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, and Former Congressman John Tierney are available for further comment and broadcast bookings by contacting James McKeon at 202.546.0795 X 2617 or

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a national non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to enhancing peace and security through expert policy analysis and thought-provoking research. Since 1980, the Center’s expertise on reducing the threats of war and nuclear weapons has been sought by the media and policymakers—supported by the tax-deductible contributions of foundations and individuals. 

For more than 50 years, the Council for a Livable World has been advocating for a more principled approach to U.S. national security and foreign policy. Our mission is to increase peace and security and to reduce the threats of war and nuclear weapons by representing our members in Washington and electing congressional candidates who support our goals.