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Security Council agree to response to North Korea nuclear test

05 September, 2017

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UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Monday opened an emergency meeting to agree to a response to North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test as calls mounted for a new raft of tough sanctions to be imposed on Pyongyang.

The United States, Britain, France, Japan and South Korea requested the urgent meeting after North Korea on Sunday detonated what it described as a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile.

Earlier, North Korea had tested a hydrogen bomb which it can mount on a missile, declaring "perfect success" in its biggest-ever nuclear detonation and presenting a potent challenge to President Donald Trump.

Pyongyang has long sought the means to deliver an atomic warhead to the United States, its sworn enemy, and the test will infuriate Washington and regional powers. China, the North's main ally, issued a swift condemnation.

A jubilant newsreader on state television hailed the "unprecedentedly large" blast, adding the device could be mounted on a missile.

Hydrogen bombs or H-bombs -- also known as thermonuclear devices -- are far more powerful than the relatively simple atomic weapons the North was believed to have tested so far.

Hours before the test, the North released images of leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting a device it called a "thermonuclear weapon with super explosive power" entirely made "by our own efforts and technology".

US Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the council to impose the "strongest possible measures" against North Korea. "Only the strongest sanctions will enable us to resolve this problem through diplomacy," she said. Japan's UN representative called for a raft of tough new sanctions. "We cannot waste any more time," Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho told reporters shortly before the Security Council meeting. "We need North Korea to feel the pressure. If they go down this road there will be consequences," he said.

Adding to already sharp tensions, the United States warned Sunday that it could launch a "massive military response" to any threats from North Korea and said it might cut off all trade with any country doing business with North Korea -- a step that would keenly affect China, biggest trading partner of both the North and the United States.

Bessho said Monday that as Japan and the United States study next steps with their international partners, China, Russia and South Korea must be "on board as well".

Every permanent member of the council -- including Russia and China -- on Sunday strongly condemned the blast, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres decried as "profoundly destabilizing". The blast threw down a new gauntlet to US President Donald Trump. He met Sunday with his national security advisers, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued an extraordinarily tough-sounding warning to the North, saying that any new aggression against the US or its allies could lead to its "total annihilation". South Korean Defence Minister Song Young-Moo said Seoul believed Pyongyang had succeeded in miniaturising its nuclear weapons to fit into an ICBM.

The South had requested the US deploy strategic assets such as aircraft carriers and bombers to the peninsula, he said, but denied reports Seoul was seeking the return of US tactical nuclear weapons. Signs that North Korea was "preparing for another ballistic missile launch have consistently been detected since Sunday's test", the ministry said. It did not indicate when a launch might take place, but said it could involve an ICBM being fired into the Pacific Ocean to raise pressure on Washington further. Trump had his second telephone call of the weekend with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but he did not talk to South Korea's Moon Jae-In for more than 24 hours -- instead accusing Seoul of "appeasement", raising jitters in Seoul about the two countries' decades-old alliance. Moon, who advocates engagement as well as penalties to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table, called for new United Nations sanctions to "completely isolate North Korea". But Trump criticised the US treaty ally on Twitter, saying: "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!"

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