SKorea threatens stern response to North 'provocation'

Global pressure builds on North after Pyongyang announces the resumption of operations at main nuclear complex.

SKorea threatens stern response to North 'provocation'

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Korea toughened its stance with Pyongyang on Wednesday, warning that it would join an international "stern" response to any North Korean nuclear test or ballistic missile launch.

Having celebrated a breakthrough cooperation agreement with the North last month, Seoul is in danger of losing its hard-fought gains -- including scheduled October reunions for family members divided by the virtually impenetrable inter-Korean border.

North Korea’s state media claimed this week that the reclusive nation planned to launch a series of satellites and had restarted its key nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, prompting fears of a major "provocation".

The shutdown of the reactor in 2007 was once seen as a major step towards denuclearization.

The South reiterated via a Unification Ministry representative that the North’s "possible launch of a missile or conducting a nuke test are serious provocations and military threats. They are also a clear violation of the United Nations Security Council's resolutions."

Washington had hours earlier also called for restraint after Pyongyang’s claim that it was ready to strike the United States with nuclear weapons "at any time".

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel urged North Korea to return to multilateral denuclearization talks -- stalled since 2009 -- and cautioned Pyongyang that it would "not get the security or the benefits of the dynamism of Northeast Asia by violating international law".

While the White House maintains that the U.S. will not accept the North as a nuclear state, an American research institute’s evidence suggests that Washington may be forced to alter its position.

The Institute for Science and International Security said Tuesday that a new building at the Yongbyon nuclear complex might even allow the country to develop tritium weapons, exceeding the power of uranium or plutonium bombs.

Researchers in the U.S. had already claimed back in April that Yongbyon was back up and running, as threatened by Pyongyang in 2013 -- the same year as its third ever nuclear test.

Tuesday marked the first public admission by North Korea that it had restarted Yongbyon’s 5-megawatt reactor and uranium enrichment plant.

China also weighed in following the North’s announcement, with a Foreign Ministry representative commenting "U.N. Security Council resolutions should be followed through".

Beijing has nonetheless signed a deal with Pyongyang this week agreeing to build a new bridge over the Tumen River, suggesting business was carrying on as normal between the traditional allies.

North Korea recently accused the U.S. of seeking "a pretext for arms build-up".

Earlier this month, it was revealed that North Korea had warned the U.N. that covert attacks "of unknown origin" might occur if the U.S. did not remove its 30,000 troops from the Korean peninsula.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Eylül 2015, 11:43