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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora