Seoul: North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, which it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, marking a dramatic escalation of the regime’s stand-off with the United States and its allies.
The test drew swift international condemnation, including from U.S. President Donald Trump, who described North Korea as a “rogue nation” and said its actions “continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States”.
Trump also appeared to rebuke ally South Korea, which faces an existential threat from North Korea’s nuclear program, according to Reuters.
“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” Trump said in an early morning tweet.
The White House said Trump would convene a meeting of his advisers later on Sunday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met on the sidelines of a BRICS summit in China, agree to “appropriately deal” with the North Korean nuclear test, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Hours before the test, Trump had talked by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the “escalating” nuclear crisis in the region.
The U.S. president has previously vowed to stop North Korea developing nuclear weapons and said he would unleash “fire and fury” on the regime if it threatened U.S. territory.
Last week Trump said the time for talking was over, although he was later contradicted by his defense secretary, James Mattis, who said the United States had not exhausted all diplomatic options.
Trump’s tweet on Sunday, however, again suggested that he favors a non-diplomatic solution. The big question now is whether advisers like Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson can persuade him not to be too hasty in ruling out diplomacy.
North Korea, which carries out its nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions and sanctions, said on state television that the hydrogen bomb test ordered by leader Kim Jong Un had been a “perfect success”.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slammed the test as "absolutely unacceptable" and said North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes now pose a more "grave and urgent" threat to his country.
"Whether we can stop North Korea's reckless actions that threaten world peace depends on the cooperation and solidarity of the international community," he added, according to AFP.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron urged tougher EU sanctions, saying Pyongyang had "reached a new dimension of provocation".
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she was looking forward "to the UN Security Council addressing the matter and taking a firm and effective stand".
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the test "reckless" but said "none of the military options are good".
"Our message to the Chinese, we think there is more scope for you the Chinese to put more economic pressure on the North Koreans," he told Sky News.
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg condemned the test as "yet another flagrant violation" of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.
"NATO is concerned by Pyongyang's destabilising pattern of behaviour, which poses a threat to regional and international security," he said.