What are we to make of a tyrant who threatens the neighbours and the world and has the weapons to cause destruction anywhere in the world? Don’t take comfort in the news that N. Korean missiles can’t reach you. They put a satellite into orbit. They can drop a payload anywhere. A trajectory is just part of an eccentric orbit.
"What better than to conduct a nuclear test, and then use the resulting slap on the wrist from the international community as an excuse to ready the troops, tear up the non-aggression pact with Seoul and release incendiary propaganda about, for example, Barack Obama perishing in a nuclear onslaught?"
see What's Kim Jong Un up to?.
I think it’s time to take out Kim Jong Un’s command and control, launch sites, and go after his military wherever it may be found. When threatened by a bad guy with a gun that’s what police do. It’s the right thing to do.
The worst outcome of such a response is another episode of the Korean War, but because that war was not ended decisively sixty years ago is no reason not to end it decisively now. Even China is offended by their ally N. Korea. They probably would not mind if Kim’s teeth were pulled. An undesirable outcome of renewed fighting is that the already starving population of N. Korea would be in greater danger. This is not the 1950s, however. Hostilities do not need to drag on indefinitely. Taking out Kim Un and his brass and military could be done rather quickly. That N. Korea has more than 1 million men at arms is no advantage for them in the days of aerial warfare. Those men are useless without supplies and modern area-denial is a fine art. It’s not like the 1950s when 100 artillery shells would be needed to accomplish something. Now 1 will do. A hundred artillery pieces can be fired as one to destroy any mass of troops in an instant with simultaneous hits giving no warning to take cover. An army keeping its head down is no threat.
It is possible that Kim’s rhetoric is for local consumption but the world cannot take the risk. It’s better to risk taking some damage now rather than a lot later, just like appeasing Hitler did not work. Instead of “wait and see” we need to mobilize now, before it’s too late to prevent Kim from doing even more damage. The world needs to put tyrants on notice that they have to be polite or die. That includes Assad in Syria, Al Qaida wherever they may be found, and any bully who threatens to kill millions for personal gain.