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(2nd LD) S. Korea's FM says Pyongyang's 5th nuke test tantamount to 9/11 attack

All Headlines 17:03 October 02, 2016

(ATTN: CORRECTS slug; UPDATES with more details in paras 9-10)

SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- Seoul's top diplomat has said in meetings with his counterparts that North Korea's fifth nuke test is being viewed by many South Koreans as a kind of Sept. 11 attack, official sources said Sunday.

The comparison with the surprise terrorist attack carried out on the United States that shocked the world reflects the magnitude of the latest provocation and how alarmed South Koreans are becoming over Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities.

“Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se has been comparing the Sept. 9 test to the al-Qaida attack in recent meetings with foreign officials," a diplomatic source said. He said the purpose of linking the two is to drive home the point that the world must look upon the North's nuclear test in a different light and fully weigh the gravity of the situation.

"Yun is conveying the view that circumstances are extremely grave," said the official, who declined to be identified.

"Just as the United States' perception of terrorism changed after the Sept. 11 attacks, the foreign minister is pointing out that the North's nuclear capability must be viewed differently compared with the past," he said. "This is especially true since Pyongyang has threatened pre-emptive strikes."

The foreign ministry insider then said that Yun's remarks also highlighted the need for drastic changes in the way the world deals with the North.

Yun met with foreign ministers from 40 countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly held last month where he drummed up support for new pressure to be applied to the communist state.

Related to the shock felt by the nuke test, on a local talk show that aired earlier in the day Yun said South Korea is working closely with its main ally the United States to come up with effective ways to protect the country from North Korean aggression.

"Talks are underway between diplomats and military-security officials to alleviate any concerns being felt by South Koreans," he said, adding that topics like the nuclear umbrella provided by Washington and other safeguards are being discussed.

There have been calls within South Korea to reintroduce U.S. tactical nuclear weapons or for the country to acquire nuclear weapons of its own to neutralize any threat from the North.

The country's top diplomat then said that in three weeks the foreign and defense ministers from the two countries will meet in Washington for a two-plus-two dialogue that will touch on all critical outstanding issues.

Yun emphasized that the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea is resolute and that it has various means at its disposal to counter North Korea.

He said that in-depth talks are now underway at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to further penalize the North for its defiance.

Seoul said in the past that the UNSC is currently in the process of deliberating additional sanctions on the North beyond Resolution 2270 that was passed in early March after Pyongyang's fourth nuclear weapons test in January.

Besides the two tests this year, the North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, followed by ones carried out in 2009 and 2013. The tests were all carried out in defiance of warnings issued by the international community.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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