News / Asia

S. Korea Issues Warning to North Against Nuclear Test

Anti-North Korea civic group hold signs and chant slogans during a rally denouncing North Korea's possible nuclear test plan in Seoul, January 31, 2013.
Anti-North Korea civic group hold signs and chant slogans during a rally denouncing North Korea's possible nuclear test plan in Seoul, January 31, 2013.
South Korea is issuing its sternest warning yet to North Korea not to conduct another nuclear test, which some officials in Seoul and Washington say may be imminent.

After South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened a meeting of his top national security officials Thursday, his government warned North Korea it faces harsh punishment should it go ahead with a nuclear test.

In a statement, presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha warned Pyongyang of “very grave consequences” unless it immediately halts “all provocative words and actions” and complies with international obligations.

That sentiment was echoed hours later by foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young.

Cho confirms the government issued a “grave warning” at the meeting of foreign affairs and security ministers. The spokesman says Seoul insists Pyongyang “move towards de-nuclearization on the Korean peninsula, as they have promised” and Pyongyang “must bear in mind that only isolation is waiting” if it continues such provocations.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. It has also carried out long-range rocket launches that the international community has condemned as thinly disguised inter-continental ballistic missile tests.

For those actions, the United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions on the reclusive and impoverished state.

Pyongyang recently warned it would continue with rocket launches and carry out a third nuclear test of a “higher level” that it contends will be aimed at its declared "arch enemy," the United States.

In Thursday's security meeting in Seoul, officials say President Lee instructed his defense minister to maintain strong military readiness in response to escalating tensions on the peninsula.

South Korean officials are not saying what sort of grave consequences the North could face or whether that could include military action.

Next month, South Korea takes the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council. That will allow it to convene meetings of the council at any time, something now considered a certainty should there be a North Korean nuclear test.

The two Koreas do not have a diplomatic relationship. They have technically remained in a state of war since a 1953 armistice brought to a pause three years of devastating civil conflict. The war also involved the Chinese on the North Korean side and the United States, backed by U.N. forces, on the South Korean side.

Military and intelligence officials in Seoul and Washington differ on assessments of North Korea's nuclear weapons development. The country is believed to have a few plutonium-fueled bombs and has revealed a facility it says is enriching uranium.

However, the general consensus is North Korea is still some years away from being able to make a warhead small and light enough to place atop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 31, 2013 2:01 PM
South Korea faces a reality that is not changing for the better. SKorea needs to ensure that its population is well protected from any irrational actions/attack from NK. So far NK continues to make decisions, that when viewd from a democratic perspective, are irrational; there are no signs that this perception will change. No ifs and buts,SKorea needs to ensure it has very well developed/implemented civil defense measures/programs/infrastructure in place, and that its people are also well versed in all aspects of self protection/ self-preservation. Additionally, it needs to maintain a competent standing, credible deterrent force; and an equally competent and credible reserve force. It is unfortunate, but the NKorean leadership is not at all predictable, thus the situation is very dangerous.

by: L2
January 31, 2013 6:58 AM
Even though, US, France, and China are a part of NTP

by: L2
January 31, 2013 6:53 AM
Don't the US have Nuc? Don't the Frace have Nuc? Don't the China have Nuc? So Why can't NK have a Nuc? (Not that NK should have a Nuc)
THERE IS A PROBLEM
In Response

by: wizardteo from: batu pahat
January 31, 2013 11:25 AM
the problem is rational and cooperative, law by laws, you feel safe and allow a policemen having weapon and walk past you but how you feel when someone not police had their weapon and walk toward you?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs