Obama condemns North Korean nuclear test


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — President Barack Obama is condemning North Korea’s latest nuclear test and says the U.S. “does not and never will” accept the country as a nuclear state.
Obama says he consulted by telephone with the leaders of South Korea and Japan after being informed of North Korea’s claim to have conducted a “higher level” nuclear test explosion on Friday.
Obama says the leaders agreed to work with the U.N. Security Council and the international community to implement existing punitive measures imposed on North Korea for prior instances of unlawful nuclear activity. He says additional “significant” steps, including new sanctions, are being considered.
North Korea said its test will allow it to finally build, “at will,” stronger, smaller and lighter nuclear weapons.
It was the country’s fifth atomic test and second in eight months.
China’s Foreign Ministry will formally protest North Korea’s nuclear test with Pyongyang’s ambassador in Beijing.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Friday that the test, North Korea’s fifth, was the latest act to destabilize relations on the Korean Peninsula. China strongly opposes the United States’ deployment of an advanced missile defense system in South Korea, and state news media on Friday called on “all sides” to stop “adding oil to the flames.”
China is North Korea’s strongest political ally and economic lifeline.
The Pentagon is calling North Korea’s nuclear test “yet another flagrant violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as a “serious provocation.”
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook is traveling Friday in Norway with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. In a statement, Cook says Carter has been briefed on reports of seismic activity near a North Korea nuclear site. Cook says Carter will remain in close contact with America’s South Korean allies as well as other friends and allies in the region.
Cook says a nuclear test would pose “a significant threat to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the stability of the Asia-Pacific region.”
North Korea confirmed Friday it had tested a nuclear warhead designed to be mounted on ballistic missiles.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called North Korea an “outlaw nation in the neighborhood” following Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test on Friday.
Suga says Japan will consider stepping up its own sanctions in addition to what it already has in place, along with those imposed by the U.N. Security Council.
Japan currently bans entry of North Korean nationals and re-entry of senior members of North Korean permanent residents’ association in Japan. It also has a ban on port entry of all North Korean vessels.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he is deeply concerned about North Korea after the communist government announced that it had conducted its fifth nuclear test.
In Geneva for meetings about Syria, Kerry says he spoke Friday with the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea. He says “everybody shares concerns” about the situation on the Korean peninsula right now.
Kerry says the U.S. is still trying to determine precisely what happened. He didn’t refer to Friday’s event as a nuclear test.
He spoke as he started a day of Syria negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Lavrov says he will talk to Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida soon. He says U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea must be respected “and we must send this message very strongly.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama held telephone talks and agreed to cooperate in seeking an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss a possibility of effectively imposing sanctions on North Korea over the nuclear test.
The Security Council in March imposed the toughest sanctions on North Korea in two decades, reflecting growing anger at Pyongyang’s nuclear test and rocket launch earlier this year in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity.
France has strongly condemned North Korea’s fifth nuclear test and calls on the United Nations Security Council to quickly face the issue.
The French presidency says “the international community must unite against this new provocation.”
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says Friday’s test is a “serious act which infringes the world’s peace and security.”
He says “this escalation is unacceptable.”
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende also condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear test, saying in a tweet that “this unacceptable action causes deep concern & threatens peace.”
In the streets of Pyongyang and Seoul, residents offered opposite views of North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
Rim Jong Su, the 42-year-old Pyongyang resident, said, “Now, I am full of confidence that if the enemies make any little provocations we will make a counter attack and we will surely win.”
Across the border, Jeong Jong-kook said that South Koreans are nervous about North Korea’s nuclear experiment.
He says: “Nuclear weapons must be prohibited in order to pursue stability and peace in East Asia.”
Another resident of Seoul, Kim Moon-kyeong, says “North Korea’s nuclear provocation is such a silly act. Everyone is against North Korea’s nuclear threat. As a South Korean citizen, I deplore this.”
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, if confirmed, is in clear violation of numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions and in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community.
Yukiya Amano says in a statement that the test is a “deeply troubling and regrettable act.”
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization also says that the test, if confirmed, “constitutes yet another breach of the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing; a norm that has been respected by 183 countries since 1996.”
The agency’s executive secretary, Lassina Zerbo, says in a statement that Friday’s detonation seems to have been slightly larger than the one recorded on Jan. 6.
China has condemned North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, a key denunciation for Pyongyang by its economic lifeline and only major ally.
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday criticizing North Korea for carrying out a test with “disregard” for international objections. The statement said China “resolutely opposes” the test and called on North Korea to stop any behavior that “worsens the situation.”
North Korea said Friday that it had detonated a warhead, hours after South Korean officials said they had detected seismic activity near a known nuclear test site.
China has provided cover to North Korea from worldwide denunciations of its nuclear program. But it toughened its line after Pyongyang carried out long-range missile tests earlier this year, restricting exports of jet fuel into the country and banning some mineral imports.
The statement did not indicate whether China would take any immediate action or support new sanctions.
President Barack Obama has been briefed about the report of seismic activity near a nuclear facility in North Korea.
South Korean officials say it was indeed a nuclear test, the fifth by the North.
Obama returned to Washington from a trip to Asia just before 1 a.m. EDT Friday. His press secretary, Josh Earnest, says Obama received the briefing aboard Air Force One from his national security adviser, Susan Rice.
Earnest says Obama also consulted with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in separate phone calls.
Earnest says Obama reiterated the unbreakable U.S. commitment to the security of America’s allies in Asia and around the world. The spokesman says Obama indicated he would continue to consult America’s allies and partners in the days ahead “to ensure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences.”
The spokesman for the State Department, John Kirby, says Secretary of State John Kerry has been briefed on the matter and that officials are monitoring and assessing the situation.
North Korea’s state TV says Friday’s nuclear test “examined and confirmed” specific features of a nuclear warhead designed to be mounted on ballistic missiles. It says there was no radioactive leakage or adverse environmental impact caused by the test.
North Korea says the test shows the country is ready to hit back if provoked by enemies including the United States, and that it will continue its efforts to strengthen the quantity and quality of its nuclear weapons.
North Korea says it has successfully conducted a nuclear explosion test aimed at examining the power of its nuclear warheads.
North Korea’s state TV said Friday that the test elevated the country’s nuclear arsenal and is part of its response to the international sanctions following its earlier nuclear test and long-range rocket launch in January and February.
North Korea says it will continue to take efforts to strengthen the quantity and quality of its nuclear weapons.
China says the Ministry of Environmental Protection has activated a contingency plan to begin monitoring radiation levels in provinces bordering North Korea, but says radiation levels are normal.
In Japan, meanwhile, two T-4 trainer aircraft took off from Hyakuri Air Base northeast of Tokyo, carrying a special container to collect air samples for analysis of possible radioactive materials.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says Japan’s capital city is also testing water samples and monitoring radiation levels in the air to examine possible impact from the North Korean nuclear test.
She told reporters: “I will protect the safety of Tokyo residents.”
South Korea says North Korea on Friday conducted its fifth atomic test, producing its biggest-ever explosive yield, after monitors detected artificial seismic waves from a quake measuring a magnitude 5.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Friday that “there is a possibility that North Korea has forced a nuclear test,” citing the temblor showing wave patterns from a non-seismic source.
He says: “If North Korea did conduct a nuclear test, it is absolutely not acceptable, and we must lodge a strong protest.”
Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida also confirmed that Japan Meteorological Agency has detected shaking patterns that are not from a naturally occurred earthquake.
The meteorological agency detected a magnitude 5.3 shaking in North Korea, near the country’s nulear test facility.
NHK says Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority is now analyzing radiation levels at monitoring stations nationwide to see if there is any change.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye has strongly condemned North Korea’s nuclear test, saying in a statement that it showed the “fanatic recklessness of the Kim Jong Un government as it clings to a nuclear development.”
Kim is the North Korean leader.
Park’s office says she spoke in Laos with President Barack Obama about the test Friday morning, but didn’t immediately reveal more details.
Park says South Korea will employ all available measures to put more pressure on North Korea.
A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, Ned Price, says Washington is aware of seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula in the vicinity of a known North Korean nuclear test site.
He says: “We are monitoring and continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional partners.”
South Korea says North Korea on Friday conducted its fifth atomic test, producing its biggest-ever explosive yield, after monitors detected artificial seismic waves from a quake measuring a magnitude 5.
The U.S. Geological Survey called the seismic activity an “explosion” on its website.

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