By Ben Dooley, AFP
BEIJING–North Korea’s claim that it carried out a successful hydrogen bomb test Wednesday drew swift condemnation from friends and foes alike. Mainland China said it “firmly opposes” its neighbor’s actions while others blasted it as an intolerable provocation that must be punished. Several governments promised a firm response as tensions soared again in Northeast Asia, with many calling for further action by the United Nations against the North, which is already subject to an array of international sanctions. The U.N. Security Council was to hold an emergency session later Wednesday.
Mainland China, North Korea’s most important diplomatic and economic partner, took a more nuanced stance than others, saying it “firmly opposes” the test and would summon Pyongyang’s ambassador for “solemn representations.” It added that dialogue was the “only practical way to resolve the relevant issue.” Beijing is Pyongyang’s key provider of aid and trade but relations have become more strained in recent years, in part because of North Korea’s persistence with its nuclear program in the face of international condemnation. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has yet to visit Beijing since coming to power following the death of his father four years ago. “We strongly urge the DPRK side to remain committed to its denuclearization commitment, and stop taking any actions that would make the situation worse,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing, using the North’s official name. South Korean President Park Geun-hye described the test as a “grave provocation” at an emergency meeting of the country’s National Security Council. “The test is not only a grave provocation to our national security but also a threat to our future… and a strong challenge to international peace and stability,” she said, calling for strong sanctions on Pyongyang. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slammed it as “a serious threat to the safety of our nation.” “This clearly violates U.N. Security Council resolutions and is a grave challenge against international efforts for non-proliferation,” he said. In Washington the White House would not confirm the test, but vowed to “respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations.” ‘Rogue state’
The foreign ministry of Russia, also a permanent Security Council member, denounced the test as a “flagrant violation of international law and existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.”