Costa Rica “strongly condemns” North Korea’s first test of thermonuclear weapon
January 6th, 2016 (ICR News) The government of Costa Rica said it “strongly condemns” the alleged testing of North Korea’s first thermonuclear weapon, colloquially referred to as a hydrogen bomb or “H-Bomb” because it employs hydrogen fusion, which the reclusive communist state announced on Wednesday.
Thermonuclear weapons produce explosive yields thousands of times more powerful than atomic bombs.
“The Government of the Republic of Costa Rica strongly condems the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on January 6th, which contravenes the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and is a clear violation of [United Nations] Security Council resolutions and is an unnecessary provocation that disturbs peace and global security and increases tensions on the Korean peninsula,” Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Foreign Minister, Manuel Gonzalez called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, adding that “Costa Rica, true to its pacifist tradition, expresses its legitimate aspiration to return to a world without nuclear weapons and asks that no state perform nuclear tests, and invites those States that have not acceded to the [CTBT], to do so.”
Costa Rica said it also calls on states possessing nuclear weapons to eliminate the role of such weapons in their doctrines, security policies and military strategies.
“The only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is their total elimination,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Costa Rica will continue to encourage and support […] any imitative aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons.”
North Korea’s ‘Successful’ Hydrogen Bomb Test Met with Skepticism
North Korea said it conducted a “successful” hydrogen bomb test Wednesday, but Pyongyang’s claim was met with widespread skepticism even as world powers denounced its latest nuclear test.
“We’ve now become a nuclear state that also holds a hydrogen bomb,” an announcer declared on state television. The statement called the test a matter of self-defense to protect the country’s sovereignty and made several critical references to the United States.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.1 magnitude earthquake near Punggye-ri, where North Korea conducted three previous nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s claim last month that his country possesses a hydrogen bomb was widely discounted as unsubstantiated and Wednesday’s test drew the same reaction, given the size of the blast. Rand Corporation nuclear analyst Bruce Bennett told VOA he is doubtful it was a hydrogen bomb test.
The United Nations Security Council, which has imposed a series of sanctions against North Korea for its previous tests, immediately set an emergency meeting for Wednesday to consider how to react to Pyongyang’s latest claim.
“This act is profoundly destabilizing for regional security and seriously undermines international non-proliferation efforts,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said of the North Korean test. “I condemn it unequivocally.”
Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, called the test a “clear violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions and said it is “deeply regrettable.”
The United States, NATO, China and Russia all quickly condemned the test. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the test “undermines regional and international security.” Moscow described the test as a “flagrant violation of international law,” but its UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, later called for a “proportionate response.”
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that the U.S. has consistently made clear it will not accept a nuclear North Korea.
“We will continue to protect and defend our allies in the region, including the Republic of Korea, and will respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations,” Price said.
After North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013, the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions banning Pyongyang from conducting further nuclear and offensive weapons tests and imposed harsh economic sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime.
North Korea analyst Shin In-kyun with the Korea Defense Network said Wednesday’s nuclear blast was more powerful than its past nuclear tests. Based on the seismic activity generated he estimated the bomb produced 40 kilotons of power, significantly more than the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.
“The Hiroshima atomic bomb produced 16 kilotons, so North Korea’s nuclear test could have been 2.5 times more powerful than Hiroshima.” Shin In-kyun said.
But South Korean intelligence officials and other nuclear experts said the size of the blast was much smaller, making them seriously doubt the test involved a true hydrogen bomb. Two South Korean lawmakers said the bomb’s yield was about six kilotons.
In its televised announcement North Korea justified its need for nuclear capability to defend itself against U.S.-led efforts to isolate and pressure the Kim Jong Un regime through economic sanctions and military containment.
“The H-bomb test we conducted is a self-defensive measure to thoroughly protect our nation’s autonomy and our people’s right to live and to reliably secure regional peace and safety on the Korean peninsula against accumulating nuclear threats and the intimidation of the enemy group led by the United States,” said the KCNA announcer.
While North Korea promised not to share its nuclear technology, the announcer said Pyongyang planned to continue to develop its nuclear technology “until the sky falls.”
South Korean, Japanese condemnation
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye condemned what she called North Korea’s nuclear provocation and promised to work with the other regional players and the international community to develop a punitive response.
“Under close cooperation with the international society, our government needs to make North Korea pay a price for the nuclear test,” she said.
The U.N. Security Council is planning to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss North Korea’s purported hydrogen bomb test.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also condemned North Korea and promised a firm response that will include pressing for harsher sanctions at the U.N. Security council.
“North Korea’s nuclear test is a serious threat to our nation’s security and absolutely cannot be tolerated. We strongly denounce it,” Abe said.
Shin In-kyun said he also expects Washington to actively advocate to impose the strongest possible sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime.
“The United States has been put in a situation in which it should impose more powerful military and economic sanctions against North Korea than the countries such as Iraq, Syria and the Republic of South Africa, which tried to develop nuclear power but failed in the past,” he said.
Impact on China
North Korea’s nuclear test announcement puts China, its key regional ally and economic supporter in a difficult position. Beijing supported U.N. sanctions after Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in 2013 but it has also been pressing for a resumption of regional “six party talks” with Washington, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow to halt the North’s nuclear program in exchange for economic assistance and security guarantees.
In October, North Korea indicated its intention to conduct a fourth nuclear test during the 70th anniversary of the founding of its Workers’ Party.
When that did not happen, South Korea had credited China for acting as a moderating influence, but other analysts speculated that Pyongyang was just not technically prepared at that time.
No reason was given as to why the test was conducted this week but January 8 does mark North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s birthday.
VOA’s Brian Padden, Ken Bredemeir, and Youmi Kim contributed to this report from Seoul and Washington.