In a rather defiant move quintessential to North Korea, the country on Wednesday announced that it had successfully conducted its first hydrogen bomb test. If the reports are true, the development of a nuclear bomb would be a significant jump in North Korea’s limited nuclear arsenal. This is the fourth time the country has conducted nuclear tests since the year 2006.
The move drew strong criticism from all the international major powers including United States, Britain, China, Russia, Japan, France and India. The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the move by North Korea was a “clear breach” of United Nations Security Council resolutions and “undermined regional and international security.”
The US said it was too early to verify North Korea’s claim but vowed to “respond appropriately” to “any and all provocations.” If the reports are conformed, the test would mark another big step toward Pyongyang’s goal of building a warhead that can be mounted on a missile capable of reaching the US mainland.
Reacting on this, the State Department spokesman John Kirby in a statement said, “We will continue to protect and defend our allies in the region, including the Republic of Korea, and will respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations.”
China, North Korea’s key ally, “firmly opposed” the test which was conducted “irrespective of the international community’s opposition”. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing, using the North’s official name said, “We strongly urge the DPRK side to remain committed to its denuclearisation commitment, and stop taking any actions that would make the situation worse.
Commenting on the sanctions, Hua said, “On the sanctions, China will honour its international obligations and work with the international community to realise the goal of denuclearisation of the peninsula and make our due contributions”
Japan also strongly reacted to the ‘provocations’. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “The nuclear test that was carried out by North Korea is a serious threat to the safety of our nation and we absolutely cannot tolerate this.”
“This clearly violates UN Security Council resolutions and is a grave challenge against international efforts for non-proliferation,” he said, adding his country would seek to coordinate efforts among UN members to deal with the action.
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye called the test a “grave provocation” to its national security and a “threat to our future”. She said North Korea’s action is a strong challenge to international peace and stability. “Tough measures are needed, including the strict sanctions of the UN Security Council and allied and friendly nations,” she was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
Russia’s foreign ministry said that if the test is confirmed, it would be a new step for Pyongyang – and a “flagrant violation of international law” that stand to aggravate tensions on the Korean peninsula. The ministry also said in a statement that it called “all interested sides to preserve maximum restraint and to not take actions that could rouse the uncontrolled growth of tensions in Northeast Asia.”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary says that if a nuclear bomb has been detonated by North Korea, it would be a grave breach of UN Security Council resolutions. Philip Hammond condemned North Korea’s announcement of the nuclear test, and said it underlined the “very real threat that North Korea represents to regional and international security.”
France also condemned North Korea’s reported nuclear test, calling for a “strong reaction from the international community”, President Francois Hollande’s office said in a statement. The statement called the reported test “an unacceptable violation of (U.N.) Security Council resolutions”.
Reacting to the news, Italy said that its Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni would be calling his Japanese counterpart to discuss “the necessary reactions of the international community” to what Rome calls North Korea’s “provocation” if it is confirmed that a nuclear test was carried out.
From India’s Ministry of External Affairs: “It is a matter of deep concern that DPRK has again acted in violation of its international commitments in this regard. We call upon DPRK to refrain from such actions which adversely impact on peace and stability in the region. Our concerns about proliferation links between North East Asia and our neighbourhood are well-known.”
European Union Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini says: “If confirmed, this action would represent a grave violation of the DPRK’s international obligations not to produce or test nuclear weapons, as determined by several United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and a threat to the peace and security of the entire North East Asia region.”