North Korea nuclear test prompts stern warnings from neighbors
By Ju-min Park and Kiyoshi Takenaka
SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) - South Korea sent a stern warning to North Korea on Thursday, two days after the North tested a nuclear bomb, saying it could strike the isolated state if it believed an attack was imminent as it deployed a new cruise missile to drive home its point.
North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday, in defiance of U.N. resolutions, pushing it further along the path of developing a workable long-range nuclear missile and drawing condemnation from the United States, Japan, Europe and the North's only major ally, China.
Pyongyang said that the test was designed to bolster its defenses due to the hostility of the United States, which has led a push to impose sanctions on the country after its long-range missile launch.
North Korea on Thursday repeated its warning that any further sanctions would provoke it into taking firmer action.
Seoul warned that it would strike if attacked. South Korea has already relaxed rules allowing troops on the border to return fire directly without seeking permission from the army chiefs.
"The cruise missile being unveiled today is a precision-guided weapon that can identify and strike the window of the office of North Korea's leadership," Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters."
Japan, which has little capacity to strike at the North if threatened by an attack because of the constraints of its pacifist constitution, said it had the right to develop such capability in response to changes in the regional security situation - but had no plan to do so at present.
"When an intention to attack Japan is evident, the threat is imminent, and there are no other options, Japan is allowed under the law to carry out strikes against enemy targets," Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told Reuters in an interview. Continued...