TOKYO, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The United States, Japan and South Korea warned on Wednesday that an “unparalleled” response would be necessary if North Korea conducts a seventh nuclear test.
Washington and its allies believe North Korea may be on the verge of resuming its first nuclear bomb test since 2017.
“We agreed that if North Korea moves forward with its seventh nuclear test, an unparalleled response is necessary,” South Korea’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong told a news conference in Tokyo.
Cho was joined by his Japanese and U.S. counterparts, Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
“We urge (North Korea) to refrain from further provocation,” Sherman said, calling them “reckless and severely destabilizing in the region.
“Anything that happens here, such as the North Korean nuclear test … has implications for the security of the entire world,” she said in a veiled message to Pyongyang’s supporters China and Russia at the UN Security Council.
“We do want everyone on the Security Council to understand that any use of nuclear weapons can change the world in incredible ways.”
China and Russia this year vetoed additional U.S.-led Security Council sanctions for the first time since North Korea began testing nuclear weapons in 2006.
North Korea has been conducting weapons tests at an unprecedented rate this year, firing more than two dozen ballistic missiles, one of which flew over Japan.
Pyongyang, angered by South Korea’s military activity, fired hundreds of artillery shells along its coast last week in what it called a dire warning to its southern neighbor.
In September, the USS Ronald Reagan and its accompanying ships conducted joint military exercises with South Korean forces in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test, their first joint military training involving a U.S. aircraft carrier since 2017.
In response, the United States, South Korea and Japan pledged to deepen cooperation, Sen said.
“We agreed to further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance and the U.S.-South Korea alliance, and promote further security cooperation among the three countries,” Sen said.
On the escalation of tensions between China and Taiwan, Sherman reiterated that the United States does not support Taiwan’s independence, but does not prevent the United States from working with Japan and South Korea to help Taiwan protect itself.
“The United States has publicly reiterated that we do not support Taiwan independence, but we want to ensure peace, so we will do everything we can to support Taiwan and work with Japan and South Korea to ensure Taiwan can defend itself,” Sherman said.
At a Communist Party meeting this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for speeding up China’s plans to build a world-class military and said China would never give up its right to use force to resolve the Taiwan issue.
China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and the Taiwanese government strongly opposes China’s claim to sovereignty and says only Taiwan’s 23 million people can decide its future.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Soo-hyang Choi in Seoul; Writing by Changran Kim; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore
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