South Korea’s main opposition party has called for the reintroduction of US nuclear weapons on the peninsula. This is just posturing and not a good idea, but could reopen a debate in South Korea about the credibility of Washington’s security guarantees.
A political dispute in Japan over an alleged cover-up in a UN peacekeeping operation in South Sudan highlights a bigger regional problem with international operations that are no longer about maintaining, but more about imposing, peace.
In the Korean peninsula, the risk of war remains much lower than is suggested by the atmosphere of crisis, but a great deal will depend on what level of escalation Pyongyang deems necessary for political and deterrent purposes.
The continuing development of North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities is testing the readiness and long-term planning of South Korea's missile defences. The plans will undoubtedly be overshadowed by Chinese concerns.
North Korea’s latest nuclear test has resulted in a familiar chorus of international condemnation. Surprisingly, the only meaningful change in rhetoric has come from the regime itself. Pyongyang now implies its nuclear programme is no longer up for negotiation.
Seismic signals detected around the world indicate that North Korea has successfully conducted its third nuclear test, and taken a step towards a more potent nuclear deterrent. But without more information, it is very hard to say just how big this step is.
While the leadership transitions of 2012 have altered this year's political landscape, they have left the nuclear agenda for 2013 regrettably unchanged. Thankfully, this new backdrop may provide opportunities to find new solutions to old problems.