South Korea and America carried out a third day of naval exercises in an apparent attempt to intimidate North Korea.
North Korea recently announced that it would test a third nuclear device, and called the naval drills “war-mongering.” However, South Korean officials believe that the arrival of the U.S. nuclear submarine will “send a message” its northern neighbor and possibly deter further nuclear tests.
Diplomats from both America and South Korea have threatened that heavy sanctions against the North Korean government would come, should the tests continue.
“The North Korean nuclear test seems to be imminent,” South Korean U.N. Ambassador Kim Sook told reporters Monday, “Obviously there are very busy activities going on at the (North Korean) nuclear test site, and everybody’s watching.”
“Everybody is unified and they are firm and resolute,” he said. “I would expect very firm and strong measures to be taken … once they go ahead with such provocation.”
North Korean officials claim the tests are designed for the purpose of launching a satellite into orbit, but their opponents contend that the technology being tested is banned under U.N. peace resolutions. A stricter set of sanctions imposed on the North Korean government after a December test prompted the announcement of a third nuclear test.
South Korean military intelligence reports that North Korea has entered the final stages of the test, and that a political choice from the country’s leaders is all that’s left. North Korean head of state Kim Jong Un delivered a “historic” speech to high-ranking officials Sunday, reportedly discussing reinforcement of the country’s military capability, according to the BBC.
A report from the U.S. State Department said that newly-appointed Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan, about the issue over the weekend, coming to a consensus on “the need to ensure that (North Korea) understands that it will face significant consequences from the international community if it continues its provocative behavior”.