TOKYO — The latest North Korea provocations do not warrant an immediate, forceful international response, three experts in U.S.-Asia relations said here Monday.

During a public panel discussion at the Japan campus of Temple University, all three stressed that the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Russia and China can afford to wait for the communist nation to resume participating in the six-party talks.

Robert Dujarric, director of the university’s Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies, was previously a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs fellow in Japan. Brian Klein is a Tokyo-based international affairs fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations and Guibourg Delamotte is a research fellow at Asia Centre and adjunct fellow at Temple.

The panel was put together to discuss the ramifications of North Korea’s underground nuclear test and subsequent missile launches, plus its threats to launch more.

The panelists shared the opinion that North Korea is more of a threat to its own people than its neighbors and would not last long in a military conflict. They also questioned the validity of its claims to have conducted a successful nuclear test and agreed that no one wants, or is prepared to deal with, the consequences of the regime collapsing.

Dujarric pointed to the costs of such a development and the fact that South Korea currently can’t support unification.

"Nobody wants it to collapse," he said. "If the Chinese government said, ‘Look, this man is an abomination. We’re going to cut him off and bring down his regime,’ most Japanese and American policymakers would be horrified."

Klein said theories abound as to North Korea’s actual intentions, but says the latest set of provocations likely backfired by pushing the other parties in the six-party talks closer together.

He said China in particular is losing face with the rest of the world as North Korea’s main trade partner, and he believes they can send the biggest message by limiting oil exports to the country.

"I think it’s a real tell-tale sign if China supports harsher actions," Klein said. "If China supports any new sanction, I think it’s clear that they are peeved beyond diplomatic politeness at this point."

Klein said it is premature to think North Korea’s nuclear test was successful, saying early tests indicate otherwise and more tests are needed.

He referenced Secretary of Defense Robert Gates saying no U.S. troops would be sent to the Korean peninsula and said he agrees with the apparent U.S. stance that North Korea is not an imminent threat. He also said the U.S. has correctly made it clear it would not be dealing under the table with North Korea and that it would continue discussions only in accordance with the six-party talks.

All three panelists agreed there is no rush to action. Dujarric spoke from the point of view of Japan, saying it faced a much bigger threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War but used deterrents successfully in that situation.

"Despite all the newspaper headlines on the nuclear tests, from the point of view of Japan it doesn’t really matter," Dujarric said. "I think the only thing we can do is basically wait and see what happens."

Klein said he believes no major breakthroughs will occur in respect to North Korea over the summer but expects the regime to try more provocative acts, including possibly firing another long-range missile. But he said it likely wouldn’t help them.

"Personally, I think the more missiles they fire off the less they have in their stockpile," he said. "Keep firing."

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