UN Security Council to meet over North Korean nuclear test

Trump accuses South Korea of ‘appeasing’ North which has become a ‘great threat’

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US president  Donald Trump. A TV announcement said the nuclear test had been ordered by Kim. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US president Donald Trump. A TV announcement said the nuclear test had been ordered by Kim. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

 

The United Nations Security Council will meet on Monday to discuss North Korea’s nuclear test, the US mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Sunday.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday – in violation of UN resolutions – which it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile.

The 15-member security council will meet at 10am (3pm Irish time) on Monday, the US mission said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the test as “profoundly destabilising for regional security” and called on North Korea’s leadership to cease such acts.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Typically, China and Russia only view a test of a long-range missile or a nuclear weapon as a trigger for further possible UN sanctions.

The council last month unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea over its two long-range missile launches in July.

Japan urged Washington last week to propose new sanctions after Pyongyang fired a medium-range missile over North Japan on Tuesday.

‘Very hostile’

On Twitter on Sunday, US president Donlad Trump said the US was considering cutting trade to any country doing business with North Korea.

Earlier, he condemned the nuclear test saying Pyongyang’s “words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States”.

“North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”

He also admonished South Korea, a key ally, for what he termed a policy of “appeasement”.

On Twitter, Mr Trump said: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they [North Korea] only understand one thing!”

When asked on Sunday if the US would attack North Korea, Mr Trump said “we’ll see”.

His comments about South Korea were the latest signal that Mr Trump is losing patience with the international community’s response to the increasingly belligerent regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Last week, Mr Trump tweeted that “talking is not the answer” in terms of dealing with Pyongyang.

In a surprise announcement on state TV, North Korea said it had tested a powerful hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Pyongyang said the test, its sixth since 2006, had been a “complete success” and involved a two-stage thermonuclear weapon of unprecedented strength.

A US intelligence official told Reuters they had no reason to doubt North Korea tested “an advanced nuclear device”.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said he and Mr Trump agreed on Sunday that the international community must step up its response to North Korea.

Mr Abe said he had agreed separately with Russian president Vladimir Putin to co-operate on North Korea.

“President Trump and I shared the view that we cannot overlook North Korea’s reckless act and that the international community must show its resolve by applying stronger pressure than had so far been used”, Mr Abe told reporters after the call.

“We again confirmed that Japan and the United States are 100 per cent together.”

Mr Abe said he and Mr Putin agreed that “North Korea’s reckless act is a serious threat” and that they would maintain close contact on the issue.

He noted that he and the Russian leader are scheduled to meet this week on the sidelines of a gathering in Vladivostok.

There has been no independent verification of North Korea’s claims that it has achieved a key goal in its nuclear programme – the ability to miniaturise a warhead so that it can fit on a long-distance missile.

The regime has earlier released footage of what it said was a hydrogen bomb that would be loaded on to a new ICBM.

The TV announcement, which was accompanied by patriotic music and images of North Korean landscape and military hardware, said the test had been ordered by Mr Kim.

The explosion caused by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake felt in Yanji, China, about 10km from North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the northeast of the country.

South Korea’s meteorological administration estimated the blast yield at between 50 to 60 kilotons, or five to six times more powerful than North Korea’s fifth test in September last year.

Kim Young-woo, the head of South Korea’s parliamentary defence committee said later that the yield was as high as 100 kilotons. One kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT.

The previous nuclear blast in North Korea is estimated by experts to have been about 10 kilotons.

Nuclear warhead

Sunday’s test, the first since Mr Trump took office in January, offers further evidence that North Korea is moving perilously close to developing a nuclear warhead capable of being fitted on to an ICBM that can strike the US mainland.

Since it conducted its first nuclear test just over a decade ago, the regime has strived to refine the design and reliability of it weapons, as well as increasing their yield.

Hydrogen bombs are far more powerful than the atomic weapons Pyongyang is believed to have tested so far.

China’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has once again conducted a nuclear test in spite of widespread opposition from the international community. The Chinese government resolutely opposes and strongly condemns it.”

Before taking office, Mr Trump declared North Korea would not be allowed to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland under his presidency.

After Pyongyang carried out two successful ICBM tests in July, Mr Trump warned it would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it made any further threats.

North Korea has since threatened to fire a salvo of missiles into the seas around the US Pacific territory of Guam, and fired a ballistic missile over Japanese territory for the first time, ending US hopes that Mr Trump’s threats had cowed Pyongyang into a pause in missile tests and a possible opening for talks.

In contrast to Mr Trump, the US secretaries of defence and state, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson, have both emphasised that the US is relying on diplomacy and economic pressure in its approach to Pyongyang.

Complicating matters, Mr Trump seems to be considering asking aides to prepare for US withdrawal from a free trade agreement with South Korea, it was reported on Saturday.

Agencies