TOKYO, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The United States, Japan and South Korea warned on Wednesday that North Korea would respond “unmatched” to its seventh nuclear test.
Washington and its allies believe North Korea is about to resume nuclear tests for the first time since 2017.
South Korea’s first vice foreign minister, Cho Hyun-dong, said at a press conference in Tokyo, “We agree that if North Korea conducts its seventh nuclear test, it will require an unprecedented response.”
Cho spoke alongside Japanese and US Under Secretary of State Takeo Mori and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
The U.S. and its allies have provided few details on what new measures might be taken, and observers say there are few good options to prevent new challenges.
For the first time since North Korea began testing nuclear weapons in 2006, China and Russia this year vetoed additional U.S.-led UN Security Council sanctions and ramped up allied military exercises following North Korea’s many tests. exercises.
“We urge (North Korea) to refrain from further provocations,” Sherman said, “which are unacceptable and deeply destabilize the region.”
He told China and Russia, Pyongyang’s backers on the UN Security Council, that “anything that happens here, like North Korea’s nuclear test, will … affect the security of the whole world.”
“We hope that all members of the Security Council will understand that the use of nuclear weapons will change the world in a dramatic way.”
Asked about Tokyo’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called on all countries to recognize the “root causes of the protracted standoff,” increase mutual trust, and take measures to address the concerns of the parties in a balanced manner. method.
North Korea has conducted an unprecedented series of weapons tests this year, launching more than two dozen ballistic missiles, one of which flew over Japan.
Angered by South Korea’s military actions, Pyongyang last week fired hundreds of artillery shells off its coast, calling it a serious warning to its southern neighbor.
In September, the USS Ronald Reagan and escort ships conducted joint military exercises with the South Korean military in response to North Korea’s ballistic missile test, the first joint military exercise involving a US aircraft carrier since 2017.
In return, the United States, South Korea and Japan have committed to deepening cooperation, Mori said.
“We have agreed to further strengthen the deterrence and countermeasures capabilities of the Japan-US alliance and the US-South Korea alliance, and advance security cooperation between the three countries,” Mori said.
Amid heightened tensions between China and Taiwan, Sherman reiterated that the United States would not support Taiwan’s independence, but would not prevent Taiwan from working with Japan and South Korea to help it defend itself.
“The United States has repeatedly stated publicly that we do not support Taiwan’s independence, but we want to ensure peace, so we will support Taiwan, work with Japan and South Korea, and do everything we can to ensure that Taiwan is at peace and can defend itself,” Sherman said. said.
At a Communist Party meeting this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the acceleration of China’s plans to build a world-class military and said his country would never give up its right to use force to resolve the Taiwan issue.
While China claims democratic Taiwan as its territory, Taiwan’s government strongly opposes China’s claim to independence, saying only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, additional reporting by Hyunhee Shin, Soo Hyang Choi and Josh Smith in Seoul and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Written by Chan-Ran Kim; Directed by Simon Cameron-Moore
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.