U.S., Japan, S. Korea warn of ‘unparalleled’ response if N. Korea holds nuclear test

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

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

“We agreed that an unparalleled scale of response would be necessary if North Korea goes ahead with a seventh nuclear test,” South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong told a news conference in Tokyo.

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

The United States and its allies have offered few details about what new measures they might take, and observers say they have few good options to prevent a new test.

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, and stepped-up allied military exercises they have only been met with more North Korean tests and exercises.

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

“Anything that happens here, such as a nuclear test by North Korea … has implications for the security of the entire world,” he said, sending a thinly veiled message to Pyongyang’s supporters, China and Russia, at the Security Council UN security.

“Indeed, we hope that every member of the Security Council understands that any use of a nuclear weapon will change the world in an incredible way.”

Asked about the comments from Tokyo, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called on all countries to recognize “the root causes of the long-standing impasse” and take steps to improve mutual trust and address the concerns of all parties in a balanced manner. way

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North Korea has conducted 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 last week fired hundreds of artillery shells off its coast in what it called a serious warning to its southern neighbor.

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 in what was their first joint military training with a US aircraft carrier since 2017.

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

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

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

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“The United States has publicly reiterated that we do not support Taiwan’s independence, but we want to ensure that there is peace, and therefore 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 speeding up 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 problem from Taiwan.

China claims it democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, while Taiwan’s government strongly opposes China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s 23 million people can make their own decisions. 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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