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Another nuclear test by N. Korea to lead to severe consequences: FM

All Headlines 11:37 March 31, 2014

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will have to pay a "severe cost" if it conducts another nuclear test, South Korea's foreign minister said Monday, a day after the communist country threatened a new type of nuclear test.

"Whether North Korea will conduct a nuclear test ultimately depends on (the decision of) the North's leadership, but their choice will largely determine the future of North Korea," Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said in an opening speech for the annual conference of diplomatic missions' chiefs.

"If North Korea carries out a nuclear test, (it) will certainly have to pay severe costs," the foreign minister said, urging the communist North to make the right choice. "The North Korean leadership must choose between isolation from the international community, including China, that have resolutely opposed further nuclear tests and the path toward greater cooperation (with them)."

Yun's warning to the North came after the nuclear-armed communist country said on Sunday that it will not rule out the option of a "new form" of nuclear test, a threat made in response to the United Nations Security Council's moves to punish the country for its test-firing of mid-range ballistic missiles last week.

Experts said the North may be alluding to the test of a uranium-based nuclear bomb or a hydrogen bomb for the fourth threatened nuclear test. The North has conducted a total of three nuclear bomb tests, with the latest test carried out in February 2013.

"North Korea's nuclear (weapons) program is the biggest threat that exists at this moment today," the foreign minister said.

"The diplomatic environment of ours is so severe as not to allow a moment of distraction ... due to many uncertainties stemming from challenges on the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asian region," he noted, also referring to Japan's recent nationalistic moves.

"Relentless revisionist remarks by Japanese political leaders have gone far to draw denouncements from the globe beyond the Asian region," he said.

The diplomatic mission chiefs' conference brought together 123 South Korean diplomats from across the world for the five-day event, aimed at instilling the government's security, diplomatic and economic policy lines in the mission chiefs.

This year's foreign mission chiefs' meeting is focused on President Park Geun-hye's campaign to pave the way for unification with North Korea as well as her so-called "creative economy" drive to boost economic activities, according to the foreign ministry.

The mission chiefs are scheduled to be lectured by key security and economic policy makers, and hold meetings with local businessmen this week.

<YNAPHOTO path='C:/YNA/YNACLI~1/Down/Article/AEN20140331004500315_01_i.jpg' id='' title='' caption='Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se sings the national anthem during an annual conference of diplomatic mission chiefs on March 31, 2014. (Yonhap) '/>

pbr@yna.co.kr
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