North Korea sparked a fresh wave of international condemnation yesterday after testing its most powerful nuclear weapon yet, which it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile.
The latest nuclear test inflamed tensions between North Korea and the US, with President Donald Trump slamming the secretive state as a “rogue nation” whose actions “continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States”.
As the UN Security Council prepares to meet today to agree a position, Trump yesterday refused to rule out a military response to the latest provocation and said the US would consider stopping all trade with countries “doing business” with North Korea. He also warned that South Korea’s “talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work”, as he assembled his national security advisers.
When asked by reporters whether the US plans to attack North Korea, Trump replied: “We’ll see”.
Last night, US defence secretary General Mattis warned that threats to the US and its allies “will be met with a massive military response... both effective and overwhelming”.
North Korea drew fierce criticism from world leaders after announcing on state television yesterday that the hydrogen bomb test ordered by leader Kim Jong Un had been a “perfect success”.
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook North Korea following the detonation which was almost 10 times more powerful than the country’s previous nuclear detonations, according to Japanese and South Korean meteorological officials.
The move came just days after North Korea fired a missile over Japan that was described as an “unprecedented and grave threat” by the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Theresa May branded the nuclear weapons tests “reckless and unacceptable” and called for new sanctions on North Korea.
The Prime Minister said in a statement: “I discussed the serious and grave threat these dangerous and illegal actions present with President Abe in Japan...and reiterate the call we jointly made for tougher action, including increasing the pace of implementation of existing sanctions and looking urgently in the UN Security Council at new measures.”
Abe added to Trump’s calls for the international community to strongly condemn North Korea’s nuclear tests.
“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,” he said.
Meanwhile, China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin both agreed to “appropriately deal with” North Korea’s latest nuclear tests.
According to a report published yesterday by China’s state news agency Xinhua, the allies “agreed to stick to the goal of denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula and keep close communication and coordination to deal with the new situation”.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel jointly rebuked the “new dimension of provocation” and urged a strong response from the United Nations.
“The President of the Republic calls on the members of the United Nations Security Council to quickly react to this new violation by North Korea of international law,” Macron said in a statement.
The 15-member UN Security Council, meeting today, could impose additional sanctions on North Korea following yesterday’s tests. The meeting is taking places at the requests of countries including the US, Japan, Britain, France and South Korea.