Editorial: North Korea’s nuclear test tramples on desire of A-bombed cities

In addition to repeated missile launches, North Korea pushed ahead with its sixth nuclear test yesterday. How far will North Korea escalate its provocations?

According to the country’s state-run media, North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb capable of being loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and it was a “perfect success.” They also claimed that the credibility of the nuclear warhead was guaranteed. North Korea is apparently seeking recognition from the international community as a nuclear weapon state and will use this as a trump card to maintain its current political regime.

North Korea’s attitude, in pursuing nuclear weapons as a way to realize its ambitions, is like trampling on the desire of the A-bombed cities to abolish nuclear arms. We feel deep resentment toward such behavior. North Korea has carried out another act of violence that defies repeated requests to exercise self-restraint over its nuclear development program as well as the economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council. This test of a nuclear weapon will only increase tensions, which are already higher than ever. North Korea’s behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

With the country’s Foundation Day holiday approaching on September 9, North Korea may act to bolster its national prestige. In fact, last year on this day, it conducted a nuclear test. However, some analysts have said that the latest test produced an explosive yield that was its most powerful to date, about five or six times more powerful than the last test. Whether or not this explosion was actually a hydrogen bomb, as North Korea claims, must be determined as swiftly as possible.

This was the first nuclear test conducted by North Korea since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January. The fact that it has now performed nuclear tests two years in a row is unprecedented. They are apparently making progress in their technical ability to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons.

North Korea launched an ICBM missile on two occasions in July. If what the country has claimed is true, a nuclear attack on the United States, for which that nation would be on the highest alert, would then become a real threat.

There is no doubt that this would create a stronger sense of crisis in the United States than ever before. Considering current conditions, where the Trump administration continues to say that “all options” are on the table while the government wrestles with domestic politics, we worry that the United States could lose its cool and make a catastrophic mistake. The use of force must be avoided at all costs.

Thus, the Japanese government must act in cooperation with the United States and South Korea to form an international coalition against North Korea. While urging that the United States refrain from any ill-advised moves, Tokyo needs to take steps to stop North Korea’s provocations.

China and Russia, countries that are reluctant to pursue economic sanctions against North Korea, are integral to any solution. Both nations feel greater concern over a nuclear test than a missile launch. They must be persuaded to help ensure that economic sanctions are enforced.

Once every five years, China holds its Chinese Communist Party Congress, which is considered a very important meeting. With this conference scheduled for October, China had asked that North Korea refrain from taking provocative actions. However, yesterday’s nuclear test was a like a slap in the face to China. China condemned North Korea’s move in strong terms, stressing its firm opposition to the nuclear test. The Japanese government should now make the most of this opportunity by calling for further economic pressure on North Korea.

Russia also released a statement that strongly criticizes North Korea. To curtail its provocations, a variety of things can be done. When they meet for talks on September 6, it is vital that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe push Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia’s support on economic sanctions. Also, with the cooperation of Russia and China, stricter and more effective economic sanctions must be worked out at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Confronting North Korea in a calm yet resolute manner, through dialogue, must be the international community’s approach to resolving this issue.

(Originally published on September 4, 2017)