Expert: North Korea's Nuclear Test Not About Obama's State of the Union

The latest test does not necessarily indicate increased capabilities.

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Following an emergency meeting Tuesday, the Security Council promised to take "significant action" against North Korea.

"You can't just ignore this," Hurlburt says. "There will be further sanctions—my guess is there will be further sanctions in which China participates, although not as much as the South Koreans, the Japanese, and the U.S. would like."

Particularly given that Kim Jong-Un is still a fairly new leader, Hurlburt says the United States will act as the disciplinarian parent to North Korea's petulant child.

[FLASHBACK: In 2009 North Korea Promise Nuclear 'Fire Shower']

"The point is to say to the North Koreans that there's a way into more sanctions and there's a way out of more sanctions," she says. "[The U.S. will] say to the North Koreans, 'Now you've made your point; there will be consequences. They will hurt your economy, they'll make it harder to meet the needs of your people, and they'll make it harder to get the international respect that you crave.'"

North Korea will also likely lose out on the prospect of more access with South Korea, something that looked to be on the cusp of changing thanks to the country's new leadership.

"The North Koreans will lose, in the short- to medium-term they will lose the economic and the people to people ties to the South Koreans," Hurlburt says.

But as intimidating as the prospect of a North Korea armed with nuclear missiles is, she says it's not likely any country will move to take military action against it yet.

"The thing that would trigger military action is something that the South Koreans felt was taking military action," Hurlburt says. "Because they are the ones at most risk with the tunnels pointed at their capital city."

And that point hasn't yet come.

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