Kim Jong-un has been in the nuclear threat business a little longer than Putin.

The fact that he has once again fired a rocket over Japan shows that his irresponsibility differs from that of the Kremlin ruler only in that he shies away from a war.

Nuclear weapons were the weapons of the powerful in the 20th century.

In the 21st century they are apparently becoming the weapons of the powerless.

As different as Russia and North Korea are, both countries lack the political and economic means to keep up in the globalized world.

So they try violence and coercion.

The Beijing-Moscow axis

So far Kim has done little more than continue to weld his neighborhood together under Washington's leadership.

An American-South Korean flight maneuver showed him that again after the current start.

Kim may see a place for himself as a junior junior partner in the Beijing-Moscow axis, and he can be confident his Security Council allies will keep further UN sanctions off his back.

However, he will not be able to force Western aid with his provocations like his father and grandfather did.

And if he were to carry out a nuclear test, then he would have to reckon with reactions that would also send a signal to Putin.