The United States and its allies are reacting to North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
The test, carried out on September 9th, was the country’s second nuclear test this year.
Some reports say the North Korean government may already be planning more testing.
Last Friday, North Korea said it exploded a nuclear device underground. It was the country’s fifth nuclear test since 2006. Measurements showed the explosion was stronger than North Korea’s four earlier nuclear tests.
A South Korean Defense Ministry official said, “With regards to (the) possibility of North Korea’s additional nuclear test, South Korea and U.S. intelligence assess that it is always ready to conduct an additional nuclear test.”
South Korean leader seeks unity
South Korea's president, Park Geun-hye, held an emergency meeting with political leaders on Monday. She met with representatives of her Saenuri Party and the two main opposition parties, the Minjoo Party and the People’s Party.
Park urged unity in reaction to North Korea’s actions.
South Korea is working with the U.S., Japan and other countries to press for increased sanctions on North Korea in the United Nations Security Council. The council has already approved a number of measures aimed at punishing the North for its nuclear activities.
New proposals could expand the list of products barred for export to the country. They could also expand restrictions on North Korean individuals and organizations tied to the North’s military or weapons programs.
Sung Kim is the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy. He said the U.S. government is working with America’s allies to form a response. He said they are considering unilateral, bilateral and trilateral measures against North Korea. Kim met with Japanese officials on Sunday.
The U.S. government also has called on China to do more to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear and its missile programs.
China’s support considered very important
Existing sanctions by the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. and South Korea have hurt North Korea economically. Those measures target trade, shipping and finance.
China’s cooperation on sanctions is considered important because most North Korean trade flows to or through China.
Chinese officials have called on North Korea not to take steps they consider provocative. However, China’s reaction has been limited.
Daniel Pinkston is a Northeast Asia expert with Troy University in Seoul. He says China is unwilling to impose measures that could cause the collapse of the North Korean government.
Pinkston said, “I think they will keep the lifeline in place for North Korea.”
On Monday, China’s foreign ministry said sanctions alone cannot solve the nuclear issue. It also said unilateral action will not be productive.
North Korea has intensified its nuclear and missile testing. In addition to its nuclear tests, the country has launched more than 20 medium- or long-range missiles.
Yet, North Korea faces problems feeding its population. And the U.N. agency for humanitarian affairs reported Monday that flooding in the northern part of the country has killed more than 130 people. More than 100,000 have fled their homes, the agency said.
Late last week, President Barack Obama condemned the latest North Korean nuclear test. He called it “a grave threat to regional security and to international peace and stability.”
I’m Mario Ritter.
VOA’s Brian Padden reported this story from Seoul. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. Additional material came from VOA’s Chris Hannas and Victor Beattie. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
conduct – v. to lead, to carry out, to do
sanctions – n. measures meant to cause a country to obey international law usually through restrictions on trade or financial dealings
bilateral – adj. between two parties
trilateral – adj. between three parties
provocative – adj. meant to cause a reaction
assess – v. to study or examine; to measure
response – n. a step taken in reaction to another action