South Korea’s foreign minister has said that North Korea’s nuclear capability is expanding fast, echoing alarm around the world over the isolated state’s fifth nuclear test carried out in defiance of UN sanctions. North Korea conducted its biggest nuclear test on Friday and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up a threat that rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain. The test proved North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was unwilling to alter course and tougher sanctions and pressure were needed to apply “unbearable pain on the North to leave no choice but to change,” South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said. The blast, on the 68th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, drew global condemnation.
North Korea’s nuclear capability is growing and speeding to a considerable level, considering the fifth nuclear test was the strongest in scale and the interval has quickened substantially.
Minister Yun Byung-se, South Korean Foreign Minister
The United States said it would work with partners to impose new sanctions, and called on China to use its influence - as North Korea’s main ally - to pressure Pyongyang to end its nuclear programme. But Russia was sceptical that more sanctions were the answer to resolving the crisis, while China was silent on the prospect of a new United Nations Security Council resolution, although state media did carry commentaries criticising the North. Under 32-year-old leader Kim, North Korea has sped up development of its nuclear and missile programmes, despite UN sanctions that were tightened in March and have further isolated the impoverished country. The Security Council denounced North Korea’s decision to carry out the test and said it would begin work immediately on a resolution. The United States, Britain and France pushed for the 15-member body to impose new sanctions. US President Barack Obama said after speaking by telephone with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday that they had agreed to work with the Security Council and other powers to vigorously enforce existing measures against North Korea and to take “additional significant steps, including new sanctions.”