Kerry warns of 'further consequences' if North Korea conducts nuclear test
on 05/02/2013 07:58:08
The new US Secretary of State John Kerry and his South Korean counterpart have discussed how to respond, amid signs that such a test is coming.
South Korea's president also speculated that Pyongyang may detonate multiple atomic devices simultaneously.
The UN Security Council passed a resolution last month condemning a North Korean long-range rocket launch that the UN and others call a disguised test of banned missile technology.
It means Pyongyang is subject to new sanctions if it detonates its third nuclear device since 2006.
North Korea announced last month that it will conduct a nuclear test to protest against the toughened sanctions over its December launch, which delivered a satellite into orbit.
During a telephone conversation between Mr Kerry and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, "there was agreement that ... if the DPRK continues its provocative behaviour and takes further steps, that there must be further consequences," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
North Korea may simultaneously conduct multiple nuclear tests as it tries to create a warhead small enough to fit atop a long-range missile, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has said.
He did not say whether his comments were based on intelligence findings.
A North Korean nuclear test "seems to be imminent," South Korea's UN Ambassador Kim Sook said at a news conference at UN headquarters in New York.
He said there are "very busy activities" taking place at North Korea's nuclear test site "and everybody's watching".
The ambassador said he expects the Security Council to respond with "firm and strong measures" in the event of a nuclear test.
North Korea has denounced sanctions over its rocket launches, saying it has the sovereign right to use rockets to send satellites into orbit under a space development programme.
As it issued its most recent punishment, the Security Council ordered North Korea to refrain from a nuclear test or face "significant action".
North Korea's state media said on Sunday that at a high-level Workers' Party meeting, leader Kim Jong Un issued "important" guidelines meant to bolster the army and protect national sovereignty.
The guidelines are likely refer to a nuclear test and suggest that Pyongyang appears to have completed formal procedural steps and is preparing to conduct a nuclear test soon.
Recent satellite photos show North Korea may have been sealing the tunnel into a mountainside where a nuclear device could be exploded.
North Korea says US hostility and the threat of American troops in South Korea are important reasons behind its nuclear drive.
The US stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.