On Tuesday North Korea admitted to detonating a nuclear test at an underground site in the country’s northeast, with seismic monitors detecting tremors measuring 5.0 in magnitude. A statement from the state-run news agency confirming that the nuclear test was carried out using a miniaturised device, has prompted fears that North Korea has developed a nuclear warhead small enough to be fitted to a ballistic missile that has the capacity to reach the United States or Australia.
The international community has been swift in its condemnation of the testing, including North Korea’s main ally China stating their opposition. All members of the UN Security Council have backed a statement saying that North Korea was in ‘grave violation’ of UN resolutions and highlighted the threat made in January to take ‘significant action’ if new nuclear testing was staged. Appearing unrepentant, North Korea has stated that the test is merely its first response to hostilities from the United States and testing will continue, especially if sanctions are tightened against it.
Jon Yong Ryong, the first secretary of North Korea’s mission in Geneva has said “The US and (its) their followers are sadly mistaken if they miscalculate that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would accept the entirely unreasonable resolutions against it, and… will never be bound to any resolutions”.
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North Korea has once again shown little regard for the UN and the western world by carrying a series of nuclear weapon tests. The defiance by the North Koreans serves as a timely reminder that peace between the north and the more pro-west south of the country has never formally been declared. However, the North Koreans are at pains to include the US in its condemnation of sanctions against the country and have basically threatened a nuclear strike if the US doesn’t take the country’s demands seriously.
What is perhaps different about this round of muscle–flexing by the North Koreans has been the response of its closest and most powerful neighbour. While in the past China may have seemingly turned a blind eye to what the North Koreans were doing, it has this time spoken against its pro-nuclear stance.
The willingness by China to seemingly stand with the US and the UN on this matter will be closely monitored by analysts and will no doubt make North Korea think twice about making a stand against two of the world’s strongest and most powerful nations. However, the unease which is unfolding on the Korean Peninsula is still a cause for concern for many.
Considering that North Korea has ignored UN orders to stop its atomic activity, do you think North Korea is being deliberately provocative by undertaking these nuclear tests? Should we as Australians, be concerned that there may be a real threat of nuclear weapons being used against us as an ally of the US? What more can be done to deter North Korea from undertaking future testing, since the threat of further sanctions and international isolation seem to be falling on deaf ears?