South Korea’s military has increased its monitoring of North Korea after the state claimed a successful test of a miniaturized hydrogen device. The fourth nuclear test by Pyongyang was condemned by leading nations.
Seoul has denounced the alleged hydrogen bomb test as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, claiming that it will seek to cooperate with regional partners and make North Korea pay a price for its provocation.
“North Korea’s provocation is in clear violation of Security Council resolutions and a serious challenge to international peace and security,” Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam said during an emergency meeting of ministry officials, according to Yonhap.
President Park Geun-hye chaired an emergency National Security Council session. In remarks published on her website the president said the country will take decisive measures against any additional provocations by North Korea and work with the international community to make sure Pyongyang pays the price for its latest test.
The Bank of Korea has convened an emergency meeting of its monetary policy board.
In a “special and important” announcement at noon, North Korean TV claimed that the country had successfully detonated a miniature hydrogen bomb, marking the country’s fourth known nuclear test. The announcement followed the detection of an “artificial seismic event” in the vicinity of a known Pyongyang nuclear site.
Mastering a hydrogen nuclear device would be a major breakthrough for North Korea. The technology allows scaling up the yield of a nuclear device with few limitations.
The claimed miniaturization of a nuclear device may mean that North Korea could soon develop a nuclear warhead for its larger ballistic missiles. Pyongyang has already claimed it can deliver nuclear strikes on the US mainland, but military experts doubt they have such a capability.
Nations throughout the world rallied to criticize North Korea for the apparent escalation of its nuclear weapons program.
The White House said the US will continue to “protect and defend our allies in the region,” and will “respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations.” It stressed that it can’t confirm that the device detonated was actually a hydrogen bomb, as claimed by Pyongyang.
China’s Xinhua state news agency said the test ran counter to the goal of denuclearization and warned that any practice that disrupts stability in northeast Asia is “undesirable and unwise.” The comment didn’t come from any official, but the agency usually reflects the stance of Beijing on international issues.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the developments, making it clear that Tokyo will “absolutely” not tolerate threats against its national security and would issue a firm response to North Korea’s challenge against nuclear non-proliferation.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said North Korea’s move is a “provocation which I condemn without reservation”and a “grave breach” of UN Security Council resolutions. The top British diplomat is currently in Beijing on a two-day trip. He noted that no confirmation of a nuclear test was immediately available.
The UN Security Council is to address the possible nuclear test on Wednesday, at 4:00pm GMT, at a request from the US and Japan.