North Korea’s recent nuclear test on September 9, 2016 is a matter of great concern for all the peace-loving people across the globe. This is the fifth nuclear explosion and the third since Kim Jong-un took over in 2011. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) tested nuclear explosive devices in 2006, 2009, 2013 and twice in 2016. The KCNA, official news agency of North Korea, reported North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Institute claiming: “The standardisation of the nuclear warhead will enable the DPRK to produce at will and as many as it wants a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of lighter strike power with a firm hold on technology for producing and using various fissile materials. This has definitely put on a higher level the DPRK’s technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets.” This statement speaks volumes of what North Korea has achieved and what it is likely to attain if its nuclear programme continues unconstrained. The DPRK unilaterally withdrew itself from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, and is also not a party to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Likewise, it is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. North Korea is believed to have a large chemical weapons programme. Though North Korea is a party to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and Geneva Protocol, yet is suspected, rightly, of having an offensive weapons programme. In the early 1990s, the nuclear programme of the DPRK was uncovered. A deal was negotiated between North Korea and the USA, intended to freeze the former’s plutonium production in return for oil deliveries and building of the two less proliferation prone nuclear reactors. In 1998 it test-fired a long-range Taeopodong rocket over Japan, and the deal thereafter stood void. Six-party talks among North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the USA began in 2003. The objective of these talks was to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang agreed to suspend nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile tests in exchange for food aid from the USA. However, this agreement came to an end when North Korea had a dispute with the USA again over the launch of a rocket in 2012. Resultantly, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2013, and is aggressively pursuing its nuclear programme and may instigate Japan and South Korea to tread the same path. This would eventually result into the nuclearisation of the entire region thus endangering peace. In a condition like this it is the first and foremost duty of the USA, supported by China, to bridge over the situation carefully. If the USA tries to pressurise North Korea by force, which seems to be unlikely, the situation may get out of control because retaliation cannot be ruled out after successive nuclear tests. It was due to this reason that Bill Clinton’s administration after having worked out for a pre-emptive strike — when in the early 1990s North Korea’s nuclear programme was uncovered — had to change its mind because it was too dangerous. North Korea could kill hundreds of thousands of civilians in Seoul if it chose to retaliate. China has urged restraint among all parties when US Air Force bombers flew over Osan air base in South Korea to show solidarity with the latter. North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, said that the public anger was “exploding like volcano” over Washington’s dispatch of bombers to South Korea. “If there is a vicious cycle of tensions continuing to rise and mutual provocations, this is not in anyone’s interest,” said the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry. After the recent nuclear test, the situation has become highly volatile in the Korean Peninsula. The following steps should be taken to appease the tension in the region. Firstly, six-party talks should be resumed without further delay. China has an important role to play in making this happen. Being North Korea’s traditional ally and main provider of food and fuel, China can help get the former on the negotiating table by engaging it at diplomatic and economic fronts. This will help to restart the talks that stand stalled since 2009. Any misstep on the part of any country may further aggravate the situation in the already volatile region. The present situation demands sanity, and all the parties should sit at the negotiating table to seek a solution through peaceful means. Secondly, if the USA is serious in restoring peace and stability in the region, it will have to dispel the impression that it has the intention to topple the political regime of North Korea. Thirdly, the United Nations (UN) should make serious efforts to motivate North Korea to suspend its nuclear programme by giving it genuine incentives. Last but not least, the UN must be careful while imposing sanctions. In the past the sanctions have not worked. Rather, they have been counter-productive. The policy of isolating a country, which should be engaged, needs to be revisited. The isolation forces a country to take extreme steps in desperation. This is what has happened in case of North Korea. The UN, therefore, needs to devise a mechanism to engage North Korea by involving China and the USA.