SEOUL/GENEVA – North Korea conducted its fifth and biggest nuclear test on Friday and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up a threat that rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain.
The blast, on the 68th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, drew a fresh wave of global condemnation. The United States said it would work with partners to impose new sanctions, and called on China to use its influence – as North Korea’s main ally – to pressure Pyongyang to end its nuclear program.
Under 32-year-old third-generation leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has sped up development of its nuclear and missile programs, despite UN sanctions that were tightened in March and have further isolated the impoverished country.
The UN Security Council denounced North Korea’s decision to carry out the test and said it would begin work immediately on a resolution. The United States, Britain, and France pushed for the 15-member body to impose new sanctions.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged the group to remain united and take action that would “urgently break this accelerating spiral of escalation.”
US President Barack Obama said after speaking by telephone with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that they had agreed to work with the Security Council and other powers to vigorously enforce existing measures against North Korea and to take “additional significant steps, including new sanctions.”
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it may take more than additional sanctions to resolve the crisis. That diverged from calls by the United States, Japan, and South Korea to escalate pressure on the North, signaling it may prove a challenge for the Security Council to come to an agreement on new sanctions.
“The current situation shows that diplomats should be more creative than just responding by sanctions, sanctions, and sanctions again on any aggravation of the situation,” Lavrov told a news conference in Geneva. “It is too early to bury the six-party talks. We should look for ways that would allow us to resume them.” (Reuters)