This picture released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 3, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) looking at a metal casing with two bulges. (Via AFP)
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - “We have continued to see signs of possibly more ballistic missile launches. We also forecast North Korea could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile,” said Chang Kyung-soo, a Defense Ministry official, on Monday.
Seoul’s defense officials told a parliamentary briefing that Pyongyang’s nuclear test a day earlier had an estimated strength of 50 kilotons, making it five times the size of its previous test in September 2016.
The bomb was also some three times more powerful than the US device that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
Earlier in the day, the South conducted a live-fire ballistic missile exercise, simulating an attack on the North’s main nuclear site.
South Korean soldiers ride on a military truck in the border county of Hwacheon on September 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The combined drill, which was carried out by the South Korean army and air force, involved the launches of a surface-to-surface missile and a long-range air-to-ground missile, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
“The training came in response to the North’s sixth nuclear test... and involved the country’s Hyunmoo ballistic missile and the F-15K fighter jets,” it added.
According to the body, the missiles “accurately struck” targets in the Sea of Japan.
The South’s military also explained that the ranges of the missiles were set in consideration of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which is located in the country’s North Hamgyong Province.
South Korea said it was also preparing fresh military drills with the US.
The wargame was held a day after Pyongyang announced it had successfully conducted the hydrogen bomb test.
According to international seismic agencies, the test created an artificial 6.3-magnitude earthquake near the test site.
South Korean and Japanese officials said the quake was some 10 times more powerful than the one picked up after North Korea’s previous nuclear test a year ago
US, Japan urge ‘maximum UN pressure; following a phone call with his US opposite number, Rex Tillerson, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Monday that the two sides had agreed to cooperate closely in order to exert pressure on North Korea through the UN.
North Korea television news channels show leader Kim Jong-un after the nuclear test on September 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
“We agreed on close cooperation between Japan and the United States to exert maximum pressure on North Korea and the UN, including the adoption of Security Council resolutions,” said the top diplomat.
The phone conversation comes a head of an emergency UN Security Council meeting later today, which is scheduled to focus on fresh sanctions against Pyongyang.
Moon, Abe want tough UN bans; meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in hold a phone conversation on the issue on Monday.
The two leaders expressed their support for a new UN Security Council resolution against the North, according to Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura.
Abe said the test is “a head-on challenge to the international community.”
He also said Tokyo will urge China and Russia, viewed as traditional allies of North Korea, to cooperate to put more pressure on Pyongyang.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (Photo by AFP)
Moon also assured that his country will maintain a solid security stance through its alliance with Washington.
Both leaders had also spoken to Trump in separate telephone conversations in recent days over the North Korean nuclear program.
BRICS ‘deplores’ North’s N-test
The BRICS group of emerging economic powers – Russia, China, Brazil and India, have strongly deplored North Korea’s nuclear test in a draft communiqué seen by Reuters on Monday.
The communiqué, which is expected to be issued at their meeting underway in China, however, calls for the North Korean nuclear issue to be resolved through dialog peaceful means.
China, Russia won’t allow chaos on Korean Peninsula
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen on Sunday.
The two leaders vowed not to allow chaos on the Korean peninsula, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin in Xiamen on September 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
“The two leaders agreed to stick to the goal of de-nuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and keep close communication and coordination to deal with the new situation,” the Xinhua news agency said.
Merkel: Trump must stick to peaceful ways; German Chancellor Angela Merkel also touched on the North Korea issue during an election debate on Monday, highlighting the role of the US president in efforts to end the crisis.
“We need the US as a power for peace and we need to do everything possible to get them on the right and sensible path,” she said in response to a question about the right course of action in North Korea.
Merkel, however, urged Trump to “consider a peaceful, diplomatic solution" regarding the North’s nuclear and missile program.