Remember all that hopeful talk when Kim Jong-Un took over as supreme leader of North Korea after his father died? The stuff about how the 29-year-old head of state might be more reasonable, worldly and sensible than his father.
Well, belay that.
Unfortunately, recent events have conspired to lead us to the inescapable conclusion that, indeed, the apple does not fall far from the tree. The new supreme leader is making as much or more noise than the old supreme leader and it is a clattering that should alarm the entire world.
Not only has North Korea aggressively continued to pursue development of nuclear weapons, the cloistered, rogue state simultaneously has been developing its missile technology.
Meanwhile, it has effectively come within a hair's breadth of declaring war against South Korea and the United States.
Veteran North Korea watchers know that public tantrums and outrageous behavior have long been trademark utensils in Pyongyang's diplomatic tool kit. Anytime the world's focus strays to topics elsewhere, the North Korean leadership does or says something provocative and, voilÃ , all eyes come back to the Korean peninsula.
That is where we find ourselves today. North Korea has declared that it plans to "settle accounts" with both South Korea and, especially, the United States.
It is tempting to dismiss this as so much bluster emanating from the diplomatic equivalent of a petulant child. But that would be a dangerous mistake.
Recent reports are that experts worldwide confirm North Korea's February nuclear test indicate that the nation has shifted from bombs fueled by plutonium, which is in relatively short supply in North Korea, to a core fuel of enriched uranium, which is much more widely available. If that is true, it likely means North Korea has a second pathway to a nuclear bomb.
Development of a highly enriched uranium, HEU, bomb also means that North Korea likely has gotten aid from none other than fellow outcast Iran, which is also racing to develop HEU technology.
It is known that Iran and North Korea have cooperated on long-range missiles, but until now there was no evidence they had collaborated on nuclear weapons.
If such collaboration doesn't make you nervous, you haven't been paying attention.
The February test was the third one detonated by North Korea since 2006 and the North Koreans apparently went to great lengths to conceal details about it and to contain the explosion so as to avoid any unpleasantness with China, its most important ally.
In fact, China is likely the most important player in this international drama. While North Korea would like to cast the current unrest as a showdown between long-standing enemies, no one should buy that narrative.
We have a hard time believing China finds it in its own interests to have a re-engagement of war at its doorstep on the Korean peninsula, especially one that might involve nuclear weapons.
Although the U.S. has many differences with China, to avoid a catastrophe this is one of those times that we simply must be on the same side.