WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 12, 2013) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning spoke to Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak, to consult and coordinate on the response to the announced nuclear test of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The two leaders condemned this highly provocative violation of North Korea’s international obligations, according to a White House News Service press release. They agreed to work closely together, including at the United Nations Security Council, to seek a range of measures aimed at impeding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and reducing the risk of proliferation.
President Obama unequivocally reaffirmed that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to the Republic of Korea, including the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella, according to the release. The President also thanked President Lee for his leadership and friendship over the past four years and pledged to work closely with President-elect Park to further strengthen U.S.-ROK cooperation.
North Korea announced today that it conducted a third nuclear test,” President Obama said in a separate statement released later on Tuesday. “This is a highly provocative act that, following its December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermines regional stability, violates North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.
Obama said that North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. He said the United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region.
“These provocations do not make North Korea more secure,” Obama added. “Far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.”
The President said that the danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. He said the United States would continue to take steps necessary to defend itself and our allies.
“We will strengthen close coordination with allies and partners and work with our Six-Party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue firm action,” he said.
The United Nations Security Council and top United Nations officials have also strongly condemned the nuclear test carried out by the DPRK, warning that it constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
Following an emergency closed-door session, the Council said the test is a “grave violation” of relevant resolutions adopted by the 15-member body.
“In line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin work immediately on appropriate measures in a Security Council resolution,” Kim Sung-hwan, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council for February, said in a statement read out to the press.
Mr. Ban reiterated his criticism ahead of a pre-planned address to the Council. “I strongly condemn Pyongyang’s reckless act, which shows outright disregard for the repeated call of the international community to refrain from further provocative measures. The test is a clear and grave violation of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”
Underlining that he personally had repeatedly called on the new leadership in Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, and try to diffuse the situation through political dialogue and confidence-building measures with neighbors and the international community, Mr. Ban said that “regrettably, my appeals have fallen on deaf ears.”
“It is deplorable that Pyongyang has chosen the path of defiance,” he added, urging the Council to act and speak in a unified matter.
According to media reports citing the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the Government of DPRK conducted its third, long-threatened nuclear test earlier today.
A test would be a violation of sanctions imposed on DPRK by the Council following nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, including a ban on the import of nuclear and missile technology. The sanctions were further tightened last month in a unanimous decision by the Council after DPRK reportedly launched a long-range Unha-3 rocket from its west coast in December 2012.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) today confirmed that its monitoring stations picked up “evidence of an unusual seismic event” that has “explosion-like characteristics and its location is roughly congruent with the 2006 and 2009 DPRK nuclear tests.”
CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth said in a statement that, if confirmed, the nuclear test would constitute “a clear threat to international peace and security.”
Also today, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called the test “regrettable” and “in clear violation of the Security Council.”
In a statement, the Agency’s Director General, Yukiya Amano, urged DPRK to implement all relevant resolutions from the Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors, and reiterated the need to resume IAEA nuclear verification activities in the country as soon as a political agreement is reached.