US, S Korea vow firm response vs North

April 26, 2014 - 12:00:00 am
US President Barack Obama bids farewell to Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in Tokyo yesterday.

SEOUL:  North Korea represents a threat not just to Asia but to the United States, US President Barack Obama said yesterday, as he and South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye warned they would respond firmly to any “provocations.”

In March, the North warned it would not rule out a “new form” of nuclear test to boost its nuclear deterrent, after the UN Security Council condemned Pyongyang’s launch of a mid-range ballistic missile into the sea east of the peninsula.

Recent satellite data shows continued work at the nuclear test site in North Korea, although experts analysing the data say that preparations do not appear to have progressed far enough for an imminent test.

“When North Korea is threatening further provocations and publicly discussing the possibility of a further nuclear test, President Obama’s visit to South Korea will send a firm message that North Korea’s provocations will not be tolerated,” Park told a joint press conference.

The two presidents were speaking after a summit in Seoul.  

Obama said he hoped China would use its influence to rein in its North Korean ally. Beijing called again yesterday for a resumption of stalled talks between North Korea, itself, the United States, South Korea and Russia. Park said the process - known as the six-party talks - would be rendered “useless” by a fourth nuclear test.

Military experts say the North would lose any conventional war with South Korea and the United States and is seeking to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent.