01/07/2016, 00.00
KOREA - ASIA - USA

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo "ready for anything" to stop NKorean nuclear threat

The three governments have agreed to work together, both in the UN and individually, to eliminate the risk of nuclear war with Pyongyang. The White House "still doubts" the effective use of a hydrogen bomb. Experts seem divided. South Korea restricts access to the inter-Korean Kaesong complex.


Seoul (AsiaNews) - After a day of frantic consultations the governments of Japan, South Korea and the United States have announced that they "will work together to stop the North Korean nuclear ambitions at all costs ". They are joined by the United Nations Security Council which has unanimously condemned the alleged fourth nuclear test by Kim Jong-un’s regime and announced new sanctions. However, Pyongyang’s real capacity of nuclear has yet to be confirmed.

At 10 am (local time) yesterday, the government of North Korea announced via state television that it had carried out a successful test of a hydrogen bomb. An earthquake of magnitude 5.1 was recorded near the nuclear site of Punggye-ri after the detonation. Besides being more powerful than a normal atomic bomb, hydrogen bombs can be mounted on lower capacity missiles which the regime has possessed for years.

According to the White House, however, the "initial analysis" show that in its latest nuclear test, North Korea did not use a hydrogen bomb, as the regime claims. American experts are still studying the situation, but the White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that "nothing has occurred in the last 24 hours to change our assessment of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities". However, Secretary of State John Kerry has stressed, "that is a highly provocative act by North Korea ".

Several international experts have pointed out that the magnitude of the earthquake "is too limited" to have been generated by a hydrogen bomb, but many others point out that everything depends on the size of the war head. Tetsuo Sawada, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, believes "it is very hard to judge only by the degree detected. Much depends on how the bomb was placed under the ground, and especially on how big it was".

The Seoul government, led by the conservative Park Geun-hye, has announced that it has limited access to the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong.  The complex is home to several Southern companies which employ tens of thousands of workers from the North, in the only example of bilateral cooperation in the peninsula. The development is also an important source of cash for the North Koreans and their government.

Seoul also announced the "possibility" of resuming propaganda operations against the regime: they were stopped at the end of 2015 in an attempt to relax the tension on both sides.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has condemned the nuclear test "in the strongest possible terms", described as "a direct threat to the security of Japan." This morning he also telephoned President Barack Obama to "agree a common approach in the United Nations on a response to the threat which posed a “grave security threat,” and that the international community needs to take resolute action". 

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