US, Japan and South Korea warn of ‘unprecedented’ response if North Korea mounts nuclear test

TOKYO, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The United States, Japan and South Korea warned on Wednesday that an “unprecedented” response would be warranted if North Korea conducts a seventh nuclear bomb test.

Washington and its allies believe North Korea may be on the verge of resuming nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017.

“We agreed that a response of unprecedented scale would be required if North Korea conducts a seventh nuclear test,” South Korea’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong said during a briefing. press conference in Tokyo.

Cho was speaking alongside his Japanese and American counterparts, Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

The United States and its allies have provided few details about further steps it might take, and observers say they have few good options to prevent a retest.

For the first time since North Korea began testing nuclear weapons in 2006, China and Russia this year vetoed a US-led push for additional UN Security Council sanctions. United, and the intensification of Allied military exercises was met only by more North Korean tests and drills.

“We urge (North Korea) to refrain from further provocations,” Sherman said, calling them “reckless and deeply destabilizing for the region.”

“Everything that happens here, like a North Korean nuclear test… has security implications around the world,” she said, sending a thinly veiled message to supporters in Pyongyang, the China and Russia on the UN Security Council.

“Indeed, we hope that all members of the Security Council will understand that any use of a nuclear weapon will change the world in incredible ways.”

Asked about Tokyo’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin called on all countries to recognize “the root causes of the long-running stalemate” and take steps to build mutual trust and respond. to the concerns of all parties in a balanced way. way.

North Korea has carried out weapons tests at an unprecedented rate this year, firing more than two dozen ballistic missiles, including one that flew over Japan.

Angered by South Korea’s military activities, Pyongyang was fired last week hundreds of artillery shells off its coast in what it called a grave warning to its southern neighbour.

In September, the USS Ronald Reagan and accompanying ships conducted joint military exercises with South Korean forces in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test as part of their first joint military training involving a carrier. -American aircraft since 2017.

In response, the United States, South Korea and Japan pledged to deepen their cooperation, Mori said.

“We agreed to further strengthen the deterrence and response capability of the Japan-US alliance and the US-Korea alliance, and promote deeper security cooperation between the three countries,” Mori said. .

Amid rising tensions between China and Taiwan, Sherman reiterated the US position that it does not support Taiwanese independence, but that does not prevent it from working with Japan and South Korea. to help Taiwan protect itself.

“The United States has repeatedly said publicly that we do not support Taiwan independence, but we want to ensure peace, and so we will do everything we can to support Taiwan and work with Japan and the Republic of Korea to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself,” Sherman said.

At a Communist Party meeting this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for accelerating China’s plans to build a world-class military and said his country would never give up the right to use force. to solve the Taiwan problem.

China says Taiwan has governed democratically as its own territory, while the Taiwan government strongly opposes China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Soo-hyang Choi and Josh Smith in Seoul and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Written by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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