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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on Sept.10)

All News 09:17 September 10, 2016

NK's 5th nuclear test
World will keenly watch China's reaction

North Korea chose the anniversary of its government founding to carry out yet another nuclear test, Friday, despite harsh international sanctions for its previous nuclear and missile provocations.

President Park Geun-hye strongly condemned Pyongyang's latest test, which comes only eight months after one conducted Jan. 8. This means that the North has conducted two nuclear tests this year alone. Pyongyang has been conducting nuclear tests since 2006 with an interval of two or three years. However, since Kim Jong-un took power, the tests have become more frequent. This requires heightened urgency and stronger action from relevant parties.

President Park convened an emergency meeting with her aides in Vientiane, the last leg of a three-nation trip, and talked with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss ways to apply stronger pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program.

As President Park said, the latest nuclear test is an act of self-destruction that will certainly invite tougher international sanctions and force Pyongyang into deeper economic and diplomatic isolation. Kim must stop the nuclear tests that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions and jeopardize the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

The continued nuclear tests highlight the need for tighter global cooperation on reining in North Korea. In particular, the world will be keenly watching for a reaction from China, North Korea's key supporter and protector. Beijing issued a statement a few hours after the nuclear test, calling on the reclusive state to stop all activities that hamper the security situation in the region and adhere to the UNSC resolutions. It also repeated its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and peace in Northeast Asia.

South Korea got in touch with the U.S. and Japan immediately after the nuclear test, which facilitated swift consultation and joint action on the issue. Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the phone and reportedly discussed ways to induce China and Russia to participate in additional sanctions against North Korea.

So far Beijing has defied international calls to take a firm stance against Pyongyang's nuclear program. North Korea's missile tests this week came as Beijing was hosting a G20 summit in Hangzhou. While being soft on North Korea's provocations, it has lodged persistent protests against Seoul's decision to host a U.S.-made advanced missile defense system as a protective measure against the increasingly violent North. This time the world expects Beijing to be tougher on Pyongyang. If it does not want to see Korea and the U.S. deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on Korean soil, it should actively do its part to contain North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The U.S. should also renew its commitment to reining in Kim's increasingly reckless behavior. The Obama administration has not been forthcoming in dealing with North Korea and it has failed to change Pyongyang's behavior. The new U.S. president needs to place North Korea on the front burner of his or her diplomatic agenda and mobilize all possible means to terminate Pyongyang's missile and nuclear provocations.

The latest nuclear test shows that the Kim Jong-un regime will be unyielding on nuclear development. North Korea conducted a nuclear test even as the resolution 2270 adopted by the UNSC earlier is being implemented. The UNSC should swiftly prepare sanctions that will ensure irrecoverable damage to the North Korean economy.

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