News / Asia

S. Korea, Japan Move to Bolster Defenses After North's Nuclear Test

South Korean protesters burn the pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an anti-North Korea rally following a nuclear test conducted by North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, February 12, 2013.
South Korean protesters burn the pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an anti-North Korea rally following a nuclear test conducted by North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, February 12, 2013.
North Korea is being sharply criticized for conducting a third nuclear test Tuesday. The underground explosion is in defiance of previous United Nations Security Council resolutions that followed similar nuclear tests. One immediate result is tough talk by South Korea and Japan  -- both U.S. allies -- about bolstering their defensive capabilities.

North Korean state media hail the nuclear test as a success, saying it "did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment."

A television announcer in Pyongyang says the country detonated a "miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force" than previous tests.

The location of the nuclear test site in North Korea.The location of the nuclear test site in North Korea.
x
The location of the nuclear test site in North Korea.
The location of the nuclear test site in North Korea.
Analysts say that indicates North Korea may have set off a plutonium-fueled bomb, suitable to be placed atop a missile.

There has been speculation North Korea has been enriching uranium for use in its nuclear weapons.

North Korea is believed to have only enough plutonium for a small number of weapons. But a supply of domestically enriched uranium would allow it to have a larger nuclear arsenal.

Related video report by Jerome Socolovsky

Stakes High After Third North Korean Nuclear Testi
X
February 12, 2013 12:01 PM
North Korea has conducted a third nuclear weapons in violation of United Nations sanctions. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that the stakes are higher this time than with previous tests in 2006 and 2009.

Japan and the United States have deployed aircraft with special equipment to collect radioactive gases. An analysis of those gases could determine what type of nuclear material was used.

South Korean officials say tremors recorded by seismographs around the world suggest the device has a yield of six to seven kilotons.

North Korean Nuclear Tests

2006
  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Powered by plutonium
  • Released radioactive materials

2009
  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Seismic signals were consistent with a nuclear test
  • Radioactive material was not detected
North Korea claimed an initial underground test in 2006, but some scientists contend that one might not have triggered a nuclear explosion. A second nuclear test North Korea claimed in 2009 had an estimated yield of two to seven kilotons. By comparison, the U.S. nuclear bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in the final days of WWII in 1945 carried a yield of about 20 kilotons.

Chun Young-woo, South Korea's presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, says Seoul is maintaining a high readiness posture amid concerns of more provocations by Pyongyang.

Chun says to protect South Korean people and property from North Korean nuclear and missile threats, the government is expanding its military capability. He explains that will include deploying missiles, as soon as feasible, that will be capable of hitting a target anywhere in North Korea.

Copies of an extra edition of a Japanese newspaper reporting North Korea's nuclear test are handed out to passers-by in Tokyo Feb. 12, 2013.Copies of an extra edition of a Japanese newspaper reporting North Korea's nuclear test are handed out to passers-by in Tokyo Feb. 12, 2013.
x
Copies of an extra edition of a Japanese newspaper reporting North Korea's nuclear test are handed out to passers-by in Tokyo Feb. 12, 2013.
Copies of an extra edition of a Japanese newspaper reporting North Korea's nuclear test are handed out to passers-by in Tokyo Feb. 12, 2013.
Japan, which also has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, is feeling increasingly vulnerable as a potential target of a nuclear missile fired from North Korea.

In a VOA interview just hours after the nuclear test, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera termed it a big threat not only to Japan, but all of East Asia.

The minister says Japan will need to bolster its defenses to counter such a threat, but the country's pacifist constitution prevents Japan from acquiring its own nuclear weapons and limits the scope of its forces. So, Onodera says, it is very important to strengthen the U.S.-Japan security alliance.

The two previous North Korean tests took place under the leadership of Kim Jong Il.  This is the first such event ordered by his young son, Kim Jong Un, who succeeded his late father. It comes two months after North Korea launched a long-range rocket with a satellite into orbit.

That was also in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang from utilizing ballistic missile technology.

  • An extra edition of a Japanese newspaper was delivered reporting North Korea's nuclear test, in Tokyo, February 12, 2013.
  • South Korean protesters burn a North Korean flag following a report of the nuclear test conducted by North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, February 12, 2013.
  • Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division director Akira Nagai points to a spot on the map showing the quake center during a news conference in Tokyo, February 12, 2013.
  • South Korean soldiers check military fences as they patrol near the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, in Paju, north of Seoul, February 12, 2013.
  • A screen grab of the Nuclear Test Facility site in North Korea, via Google Maps satellite view.
  • South Korean soldiers monitor computers at the Seoul train station following a report about a possible nuclear test conducted by North Korea, February 12, 2013.
  • A video grab from KCNA shows the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket launching at North Korea's West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at the satellite control center in Cholsan county, North Pyongang province December 12, 2012.
  • North Koreans celebrate the successful launch of the Unha-3 rocket at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang December 14, 2012. The sign reads: "Let's glorify dignity and honor of great people of Kim Il Sung and of Korea of Kim Jong Il in the world!"

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
February 12, 2013 10:06 AM
The UN resolutions condemning North Korea for nuclear underground tests are of no avail. Increasing the defenses of South Korea and Japan does not stop the nuclear threat of North Korea. The security alliance of Japan-US also do not deter North Korean nuclear armament. The on and off six party talks is only helping North Korea to buy time for nuclear developments. China is the only country capable of restraining North Korea. Instead of focusing on North Korea, the countries threatened by North Korea should focus on restraining China.
In Response

by: Truong Tiep from: Mississippi, USA
February 12, 2013 5:56 PM
I agree with Davis K. Thanjan. If we can restrain China looks like we cut off the head of the snake . All people in south east and far east asia knew this.

by: Mark from: USA
February 12, 2013 9:46 AM
North Korea has been behaving like a bad neighbor in the international community. Several of the community members have decided not to trade with or assist them because of that.

I don't see how any rational nation can construe that as being a "hostile action against North Korea" or "nuclear war action" as North Korean media has reported. It is the right of every nation to decide who they want to do business with.

When North Korea becomes a good neighbor and a partner for peace in the region they'll get the respect they're seeking from the international community. Right now they (their leaders) are acting like spoiled brats.

If China is willing, it would seem like this is a great opportunity to show the world that they are ready to be leaders in modern geo-politics.
In Response

by: Sherry Chen from: LA
February 12, 2013 12:16 PM
As people mentioned, N Korea acts as a bad neighbor of many countries, two of which are severely threaten should be China and S Korea. It is unwise to support N Korea developing any form of nuclear weapons from the view of chinese, since the distance of nuclear missile lauchers and Beijing is so short. A famous chinese saying goes "how can let a tiger sleep beside my bed?" By analysis of consequence of N korean unclear weapons producing, N korean can easily ask china for aid further by bully and threaten and get rid of chinese supervise.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs