Stop me if you've heard this one before. North Korea decides, for whatever reason, that it is time to once again challenge the international community by conducting missile and nuclear tests. It announces a "satellite launch" and proceeds, despite international condemnation and warnings of dire consequences, to test its long-range missile capabilities.

The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) then debates the issue, with the United States and South Korea (among others) arguing for tougher sanctions while the Chinese insist on a "prudent" response. Finally a watered-down UNSC statement or resolution is passed, to which North Korea takes great affront, promising in response to conduct another nuclear test (which had been planned all along) and to "punish" any country (but especially South Korea) that dares to enforce UNSC prohibitions.

Yes, we have seen this play before. The only difference this time is, given the spectacular failure of the rocket launch in April 2012, Pyongyang saw the need first to conduct a follow-on launch (which it did successfully in December) before moving on to the next act.