Søvndal: China must pressure North Korea

An international response to North Korea’s atomic detonation hinges on China’s willingness to pressure their unpopular allies

February 12th, 2013 12:10 pm| by admin

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) and Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti) both condemned North Korea’s detonation of an atomic device today, saying they would support a harsh international reaction.

"It is imperative that the international community reacts forcefully to the latest North Korean provocation," Thorning-Scmidt said in a statement. "We must pressure them back to the negotiation table. We condemn the underground detonation of atomic devices, which is in clear violation of international regulations and the responsibilities of North Korea."

Søvndal echoed his PM's sentiments, contending that the act was not only a threat to South Korea, but to a world that was focusing on nuclear disarmament rather than escalation.

“I strongly condemn North Korea’s atomic detonation. It is a clear breach of a unanimous global society who warned North Korea about detonating atomic devices as recently as January,” Søvndal wrote in a press release. “We support a strong reaction from the international community, including from the United Nations Security Council and the EU. It must be made crystal clear that the provocation will only serve to further isolate the leaders in Pyongyang.”

North Korea conducted the nuclear test in an underground testing site in the remote northeastern region of the country on Tuesday in their latest effort to build a bomb that is small enough to be attached to a long-range missile.

Monitoring agencies in the region detected a seismic event, measuring about 5.1 on the Richter Scale at 11:57am local time having an epicentre in the same location as North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

The North Korean authorities indicated that the detonation, the third of its kind in North Korea, was a warning to the US and was from a smaller atomic device than the previous two detonations.

"The test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level, with the use of a smaller and lighter-bomb, unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said.

The detonation immediately provoked condemnations from the United Nations, the US and other countries and puts pressure on one of North Korea’s only allies, China. According to Søvndal, a strong response from the Chinese is vital.

“China is definitely the key because they assist North Korea financially,” Søvndal told Ritzau. “Significant gains can be made if China puts pressure on them and I am very interested in seeing what the Chinese reaction will be this afternoon.”

Officials from the South Korean defence ministry have indicated that the atomic detonation measured six to seven kilotons, which is about half of the size of the impact of the bomb that was dropped by the US on Hiroshima in World War II.

North Korea’s first detonation occurred in 2006 measured approximately one kiloton while its second in 2009 was roughly two kilotons.

On January 23, the UN Security Council ratified resolution 2087, which further tightened sanctions against North Korea following their missile test on 12 December 2012. Even harsher sanctions are likely to follow North Korea's latest action.

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