North Korea’s nuclear test

North Korea’s nuclear test
North Korea has conducted its sixth nuclear test on September 3rd, 2017. It was the nation’s most powerful test that resulted in an artificial earthquake. Relations between..

North Korea has conducted its sixth nuclear test on September 3rd, 2017.

It was the nation’s most powerful test that resulted in an artificial earthquake.

Background

Relations between US and North Korea have always been strained. The former is one of the most isolated nations in the world.

Since 2013, North Korea is under UN sanctions for conducting an underground nuclear explosion. In July 2017, North Korea successfully test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The UN unanimously imposed fresh sanctions on the nation for not heeding the calls from the international community. In August 2017, North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea. The country followed those launches by firing a missile over Japan. The nation has become increasingly aggressive with its missile program. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has deemed North Korea’s actions an “unprecedented” threat to the country.

US has conducted live military drills alongside South Korea. The nation has also called onto China to be more proactive in countering North Korea’s threats.

Analysis

North Korean state media announced that the nation has conducted its sixth nuclear test to date on September 3rd, 2017. It is the nation’s most powerful test yet. According to reports, the country detonated a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile. The tests triggered an artificial 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Tremors were felt in China and Russia as well. Japan and China have stated that no radiation was detected after the tests.

US President Donald Trump was critical of North Korea and responded through a series of tweets. He said, “North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.  North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success. 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!” The President has also been careful not to rule out a nuclear response to North Korea. When asked by a reporter on whether US would consider launching an attack on North Korea, he responded, “We’ll see.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the test “utterly disappointing and infuriating.” In response to the sixth nuclear test, South Korea conducted a missile drill simulating an attack on the North Korean nuclear site.

"The training demonstrates the South Korean military's resolve to destroy not only the origin of provocation but also the enemy's leadership and supporting forces if they threaten the security of our people," Col Roh Jae-cheon, the army spokesman is quoted by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

US is looking to push a new round of multilateral sanctions at the U.N. Security Council. The nation wants to target North Korea's oil imports. US is also considering cutting off all trade from nations that are doing business with North Korea. This includes China as well as India.

China, which also condemned the tests, has been reluctant about agreeing to fresh sanctions. The country has argued that sanctions have not deterred North Korea yet. Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “On the one hand, sanctions have continued to be put in place via resolutions and on the other hand North Korea’s nuclear and missile launch process is still continuing.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that it would be hard to reach a compromise on issues affecting the Korean peninsula through sanctions pressures alone. This is not a constructive way of engaging North Korea. It would be better for the US to temporarily suspend their joint military exercises in the South China Sea and then ask North Korea to refrain from further nuclear tests. 

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