US, Japan and South Korea have jointly decided to launch a strong global response to North Korea’s latest aggression after the communist nation claimed that it has successfully conducted its first hydrogen bomb test. Although a close ally and a neighbour, China has condemned the test but is unlikely to go all out in countering North’s actions as that might seriously undermine Kim Jong Un’s hard-line communist regime.
Here’s how the world has reacted so far:
South Korea is in talks with the United States to deploy U.S. strategic assets on the Korean peninsula, a South Korean military official said on Thursday, a day after North Korea said it successfully tested a hydrogen nuclear device. A South Korean military official told Reuters the two countries had discussed the deployment of U.S. strategic assets on the divided Korean peninsula, but declined to give further details.
South Korea, technically in a state of war against the North, said it was not considering a nuclear deterrent of its own, despite calls from ruling party leaders. South Korean officials said they were considering a variety of punitive measures. The options include restarting border propaganda broadcasts that Seoul halted after it agreed with Pyongyang in late August on a package of measures aimed at easing animosities, Defense Minister Han Min-koo told lawmakers Thursday.
United State of America
U.S. congressional sources said Republican leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives were considering a vote as soon as next week to impose stiffer punishment on foreign companies doing business with Pyongyang.
While U.S. sanctions have aggressively targeted Pyongyang’s military and weapons program, the United States has not imposed crippling economic sanctions, in part because these would hit Chinese firms and banks that do the vast bulk of business with North Korea, former U.S. officials said. Obama also reaffirmed the “unshakeable U.S. commitment” to the security of South Korea and Japan, according to the statements.
“We are deeply interlinked and if you hold an economic gun to China’s head, you are holding it to your own head,” said Joseph DeThomas, a former U.S. diplomat who worked on sanctions on North Korea and Iran, referring to the close economic relations between the world’s two largest economies.
Trucks are rumbling across the Chinese-North Korean border in a sign that trade is continuing despite Beijing’s anger over the North’s avowed hydrogen bomb test. There is no obvious signs of disruption in the northeastern city of Dandong that sits on the Yalu River directly across from North Korea’s Sinuiju. The twin cities are the conduit through which much of North Korea’s international trade passes.
Beijing could also introduce unilateral measures such as tighter inspections of the trucks that cross the Yalu carrying mostly consumer goods bound for the North. China-North Korean economic projects could be suspended and Chinese companies and banks discouraged from doing business with North Korea.
Yet as North Korea’s neighbor and chief backer, Beijing is unlikely to takes steps that might seriously undermine Kim Jong Un’s hard-line communist regime. Apart from a traditional friendship dating back decades, China is fearful of a collapse that could bring chaos, sending refugees across the border and possibly leading to a U.S. military presence in the North. Although willing to notch up sanctions, Beijing likely won’t reduce energy and food assistance or impose overly harsh economic sanctions, said Bonnie Glaser, an expert on China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
The UN Security Council in an emergency session warned North Korea of fresh sanctions and strongly condemning Pyongyang’s action as a “clear threat” to international peace and security. The 15-nation Security Council, including China, held urgent consultations to address the “serious” situation arising from the nuclear test conducted by North Korea.
The Council members had previously said that they will take “further significant measures” against North Korea if it conducted another nuclear and vowed to take additional measures.
Japan PM Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama promised close cooperation over their responses to the nuclear test, Kyodo said. An adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo had begun discussing a new U.N. sanctions resolution with Washington.
Katsuyuki Kawai told Reuters one option for Japan itself could be to reimpose bilateral sanctions it eased in 2014 in return for North Korea’s reopening of a probe into the status of abducted Japanese citizens.
(with inputs from agencies)