Comments from around the world on North Korea’s announcement that it conducted its fourth nuclear test, and its first of a hydrogen bomb, on Wednesday:
PARK GEUN-HYE, South Korean president:
“It’s not only grave provocation of our national security, but also an act that threatens our lives and future. It’s also a direct challenge to world peace and stability.”
A North Korean television anchor:
“The Republic (referring to North Korea), as a responsible nuclear weapon holder, will neither use nuclear weapons first nor transfer (nuclear) related means and technology under any circumstances as already declared unless aggressive, hostile forces infringe upon our autonomy. There can neither be suspension of nuclear development nor nuclear dismantlement unless the U.S. rolls back its vicious hostile policy toward North Korea.”
MELISSA HANHAM, senior researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterrey, California.
“I’m pretty skeptical. … The seismic data indicates it would be very small for a hydrogen test.
“It would be very, very remarkable if they had achieved it already. … It seems just too soon to have this big technical achievement. But North Korea has always defied expectations.”
PHILIP HAMMOND, British foreign secretary:
“If a nuclear device has been detonated by North Korea, this is a grave breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a provocation which I condemn without reservation.
“I have discussed this matter today in Beijing with my Chinese counterpart, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, and we have agreed to work with other members of the U.N. Security Council towards a robust international response.”
SONG CHOL, a resident of Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital:
“The United States is the aggressor with all kinds of nuclear weapons, waiting to invade our country, so having a hydrogen bomb is the right thing, the legitimate right of a sovereign state, which nobody can complain about. It would be stupid to put down your gun as you are faced by fierce wolves rushing at you.”
SHINZO ABE, Japanese prime minister:
“North Korea’s nuclear test this time is a major threat to our nation’s safety. This absolutely cannot be tolerated and we strongly condemn this act. … Going forward, our country, as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, will coordinate with the United States, South Korea, China and Russia to take resolute measures.”
JOEL WIT, former U.S. State Department official and founder of 38 North, a North Korea-oriented website at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies:
“Every nuclear power essentially moves down the same track as they develop nuclear weapons. And that track is miniaturization, but also increasing the yield of nuclear weapons. That’s what the Americans did, that’s what the Russians did.”
Wit said that if North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb, it would likely be the least advanced form, a “boosted” hybrid weapon rather than a single-stage or two-stage H-bomb.
“If the North Koreans could build a single stage or a two-stage, which is unlikely, they’d be much more advanced in terms of their nuclear weapons program they we thought they were.”
HAZEL SMITH, director of the International Institute of Korean Studies at Britain’s University of Central Lancashire.
“The North Koreans are not led by diplomatic strategy anymore. They are led by a view that the military is what allows the regime to survive … You have a group of (ruling) families who don’t want to see their power go, who don’t want to end up in (the International Criminal Court in) The Hague.
“Every nuclear test that they’ve had has caused massive consternation in China. But the North Koreans have never been susceptible to letting China tell them what to do.”
JULIE BISHOP, Australian foreign minister:
“Today’s nuclear test confirms North Korea’s status as a rogue state and a continuing threat to international peace and security.”
HUA CHUNYING, spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“The Chinese government firmly opposes this nuclear test by North Korea. We surely will summon North Korean senior officials and the ambassador to lodge our solemn protest.”
LASSINA ZERBO, executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization:
“If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act constitutes a breach of the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing; a norm that has been respected by 183 countries since 1996. It is also a grave threat to international peace and security. … I sincerely hope that this will serve as the final wake-up call to the international community to outlaw all nuclear testing.”
JOHN DELURY, a professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University:
North Korea’s powerful military and nuclear weapons bureaucracies “are continuously looking for ways to improve their programs,” Delury said. “I figure they are constantly asking to test.”
He said that since “there’s not much in play” with North Korea diplomatically with the U.S., South Korea or even China, leader Kim Jong Un “takes a little bit of a blow” with the test while gaining international attention and placating powerful officials in his regime.
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