A North Korean in Bali

In Seoul, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen turned his focus to North Korea, warning that Pyongyang could well lash out again. As Mullen put it, “North Korea shows no sign of relenting in pursuit of its capabilities and I'm not convinced they won't provoke again.” He called on Beijing to step up and use more of its influence in dealings with Pyongyang.

There might be a chance next week as the North Korean foreign minister, Pak Ui-chun, is expected to make a rare appearance at the ASEAN regional meeting in Indonesia. Secretary State Hillary Clinton will also be at the forum, but Indonesia’s foreign minister made it clear that “there is no plan for a six-party talks meeting in Bali.”

Mullen is in Seoul after wrapping up a four-day trip to China in which he caught a glimpse of some of Beijing’s military capabilities. On Tuesday, he got a close look at Su-27 fighter jets, both up close and during training maneuvers, which the Chinese cited as evidence of their transparency. Yesterday, he inspected a Yuan-class submarine.

The issue of Syria’s nuclear program will be up for discussion at the UN Security Council today. Back in June, the IAEA reported Damascus to the UNSC for its covert activities, but the discussions today aren’t expected to get all that far, as China and Russia opposed that initial IAEA referral. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said, “there are certain members of the council ... including some veto-wielding members, who did not support the referral and who are unlikely to be prepared to support a council product at this time.”