February 12th, 2013
05:15 AM ET

Q&A: North Korea finally conducts nuclear test, what now?

Editor's note: Mike Chinoy, a senior follow at the University of South California, the author of Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis and a former CNN senior international correspondent explains the implications of North Korea's third nuclear test.

By Mike Chinoy

North Korea has conducted an underground nuclear test using more sophisticated technology than its previous two attempts, drawing widespread international condemnation.

It's the first test carried out under the secretive nation's young leader Kim Jong Un and threatens to undermine an already fragile security situation in the region.

How worried should we be about North Korea's nuclear test?

It's worrying but does this mean they can drop a nuclear weapon on Los Angeles? Absolutely not. The notion that they are going to target the U.S. is way off the mark.

Any time the North Koreans stage a test, it significantly improves their nuclear capabilities. This comes after they staged a rocket launch that was successful, a long range rocket which appears to have put a satellite into orbit. What they need to achieve to have the weapon they want is the capability to miniaturize a warhead and put it on a rocket. This test isn't going to do that in and of itself, but it is a significant step forward.

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Filed under: North Korea • Nuclear