President Obama warned that North Korea would face “serious consequences” after conducting a nuclear test early Friday – the latest in a series of provocative actions this year including a previous nuclear test eight months ago and multiple ballistic missile launches since.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama had spoken to South Korean and Japanese leaders by phone, and “reiterated the unbreakable U.S. commitment to the security of our allies in Asia and around the world.”
“The president indicated he would continue to consult our allies and partners in the days ahead to ensure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences,” he added. Obama has just returned from a trip to Asia, where he was attending a G20 summit in China when North Korea fired three ballistic missiles into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan.
Friday’s test is the fifth carried out by the regime in Pyongyang in defiance of the international community. It said in an announcement on state television that North Korea has now developed nuclear warheads boasting “higher strike power,” while improving its ability to mount them onto ballistic missiles.
“This is our response to hostile powers, including the U.S.,” it said. “We sent out a message that if the enemies attack us, we can counterattack.”
The previous four nuclear tests was conducted in 2006, 2009, 2013 and January 6 this year.
Last January’s test brought a response in the form of a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution adopted two months later. The Kim Jong-un regime has showed no sign of changing direction or tamping down its belligerent rhetoric since then, however.
On the contrary, it has carried out a number of ballistic missile launches over the ensuing months, prompting a series of condemnatory Security Council press statements, often merely replicating much of the language of earlier ones.