South Korea and Japan bolstered military preparations and mobilized scientists Wednesday as North Korea’s neighbours tried to determine if Pyongyang’s third nuclear test was as successful as it claimed.
The detonation was also the focus of global diplomatic maneuvers, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reaching out to counterparts in Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo. President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to assure U.S. allies in the region and warn of “firm action.”
Intelligence officials and analysts in Seoul raised the possibility of another nuclear test and of ballistic missile test-launches. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the latest test was merely its “first response” to what it called U.S. threats and that Pyongyang will continue with unspecified “second and third measures of greater intensity” if Washington maintains its hostility.
South Korea has raised its military readiness alert level, and on Wednesday it used aircraft and ships, as well as specialists on the ground, to collect air samples to analyze possibly increased radiation from the test, according to the Defense Ministry. Japanese fighter jets were dispatched immediately after the test to collect atmospheric samples. Japan has also established monitoring posts, including one on its northwest coast, to collect similar data.
South Korea also said Wednesday it has deployed cruise missiles with “world-class accuracy and destructive power” that are capable of hitting any target in North Korea at any time, and is speeding up the planned deployment of ballistic missiles.
Full article: North Korea’s neighbours prepare for war after hermit nation’s nuclear test (National Post)