North Korea did not carry out a nuclear test Saturday as many feared, and a missile launch the next day failed. Perhaps Donald Trump’s military threats and possible sanctions from China have put Pyongyang on the back foot, John Everard says.
Many observers feared North Korea would carry out its sixth nuclear test, or that the USS Carl Vinson and its escorts — which Pyongyang at the time thought were just off the coast of North Korea — would attack.
Very few people outside the US administration knew the carrier group was in fact some 3, 500 miles away from the Korean Peninsula .
Both North Korea and the United States warned of devastating consequences if the other made a move. Only a small miscalculation in Pyongyang, Washington or Beijing might have sent the situation spiraling into violence.
But in the end none of that happened. Instead, the next day, North Korea tried and failed to launch a medium-range missile, to which neither the United States nor China responded. We got through yet another North Korean crisis.
In my opinion, the most plausible explanation for this is that North Korea blinked. Although it is possible the extensive preparations around its nuclear test site were intended only to wind up the international community, it seems more likely that the North Koreans did indeed plan a nuclear test Saturday but desisted, probably because they assessed the risks of serious retaliation were too great.
The US carrier group it thought was near Korea and China’s threat on April 12 to support UN sanctions, including cutting off North Korea’s oil supply — which would have quickly brought its fragile economy to a halt — probably weighed heavily on Pyongyang as well.

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