North Korea’s nuclear weapons program demonstrates “rapid progress” and poses a “new global threat” to international security, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said following the sixth nuclear test by Pyongyang earlier this month.
On September 3 Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test yet, using a hydrogen bomb that was allegedly small enough to be mounted on a ballistic missile. The blast was so potent that it registered as a 5.6 magnitude earthquake.
“(The) yield is much bigger than the previous test, and it means North Korea made very rapid progress,” International IAEA Director Yukiya Amano told reporters in Seoul, after a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.
“Combined with other elements, this is a new threat and this is a global threat,” he added referring to the development of North Korean ballistic missile rockets.
North Korean official in charge of relations with the US is expected to hold talks with diplomats in Russia’s Foreign Ministry later this week.
Choe Son Hui, the director general of the foreign ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau, arrived in the Russian capital on Tuesday.
Sources in Russia’s Foreign Ministry have revealed Choe is expected to hold talks with senior diplomat Oleg Burmistrov on Friday.
In the talks, the Russian diplomat is likely to ask North Korea to exercise restraint over its nuclear and missile programs.
He is likely to urge the North to hold dialogue with key nations, including the United States.
The talks come as the North has continued to launch ballistic missiles and carry out nuclear tests, prompting Japan and the US, among others, to apply more pressure on Pyongyang.
China and Russia, which have close links to North Korea, have been appealing to resolve the issues through dialogue.
Russia’s ambassador-at-large Oleg Burmistrov will meet Choe Son-hui, director-general of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry department on North America in Moscow on Friday to discuss the Korean crisis. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said Thursday a statement will be issued after the diplomats’ meeting.
China has ordered North Korean firms and joint ventures in the country to shut down. This follows the adoption of the latest sanctions resolution by the UN Security Council against Pyongyang for its 6th nuclear test.
The Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that the closures must come within 120 days of the council’s September 11th approval of the resolution.
The resolution calls for UN member countries to close all joint ventures and cooperative groups set up by North Korean individuals and entities. Beijing is apparently trying to demonstrate that it is steadily implementing the resolution.
Chinese and North Korean joint ventures run restaurants and other operations in China. If the directive for their shutdown is steadily implemented, it will likely affect North Korea’s effort to acquire foreign currency.
Chinese government statistics show that China imported more than 1.6 million tons of coal from North Korea last month. The trade took place despite the government’s announcement in February that it would suspend imports of the commodity from North Korea throughout this year in accordance with a UN sanctions resolution.
South Korea has held a drill simulating a North Korean chemical attack on the capital Seoul.
About 300 military and other personnel participated in the biennial exercise held at a stadium in Seoul on Wednesday.
The drill was based on the scenario that the city had been hit by North Korean artillery shells containing chemical agents, resulting in civilian casualties.
Soldiers wearing gas masks were seen washing down people who were carried away from a smoke screen that simulated toxic chemical gas. They were then taken to hospital in ambulances.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in says his country will strengthen its alliance with the United States in dealing with North Korea’s provocations.
Moon spoke at an Armed Forces Day ceremony at a naval base in Pyeongtaek on Thursday.
Moon noted that the most urgent task is securing counter capabilities against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. He expressed determination to have the North give up its nuclear ambitions.
Moon added that the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is at its most critical ever, and that Pyongyang’s provocations can be deterred only when the South Korea-US alliance is effectively manifested.
Moon also urged stepped up efforts to enhance the country’s own defense capabilities.
Earlier, Moon inspected the 800-kilometer-range ballistic missile Hyunmoo-2, which can target all of North Korea.
The South Korean military is bracing for a possible new provocation as the North marks the anniversary of the founding of its ruling party on October 10th.
Malaysia has prohibited its citizens from traveling to North Korea due to mounting tension on the Korean Peninsula.
The Malaysian government announced the ban on Thursday in view of tensions resulting from Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear tests. It said the ban will be in effect until the situation returns to normal.
Bilateral ties have deteriorated since the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North’s leader, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February.
The latest move is seen as an attempt by Malaysia to show it’s taking a tougher line on North Korea, as US President Donald Trump calls for efforts to isolate Pyongyang. Media agencies