The Latest: SKorea to limit access to border industrial park

AP News
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Posted: Jan 06, 2016 11:14 PM
The Latest: SKorea to limit access to border industrial park

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The latest on North Korea's announcement that it conducted a hydrogen bomb test Wednesday (all times Seoul):

11 a.m. Thursday

South Korea is limiting entry to an industrial park in North Korea jointly run by two Koreas in its first concrete action since Pyongyang said it had carried out a successful hydrogen bomb test.

The Unification Ministry says visitors who are not directly related to business operations in Kaesong industrial park will be denied entry. The partial entry ban will affect clients, potential buyers and service providers to 120 South Korean businesses in the North Korean border city. It was not clear how many people would be affected by the decision.

South Korean companies — mostly small- and medium-sized one — make such things as watches and fashion goods in the border city with cheap labor from North Korea. The park, which employs about 53,000 North Koreans, is the last major inter-Korean project from the era of rapprochement.

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10 a.m.

President Barack Obama spoke to the leaders of both South Korean and Japan after North Korea said it had carried out a hydrogen bomb test to reiterate "the unshakeable U.S. commitment to the security" of both countries.

Separate statements from the White House said Obama had spoken to South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. The statements said the countries "agreed to work together to forge a united and strong international response to North Korea's latest reckless behavior."

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5:31 a.m.

The head of the U.N. Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization says its monitors are looking for a smoking gun that will confirm that North Korea carried out a nuclear test — and whether it was a hydrogen bomb as Pyongyang claims.

Lassina Zerbo told U.N. reporters in New York that over 30 international monitoring stations detected Wednesday's unusual seismic event on the Korean peninsula which was similar to North Korea's last nuclear test in 2013.

Zerbo said the organization needs some time to detect radioisotopes released from an underground test and that there is no way to determine whether a hydrogen bomb was detonated without that information.

He said it took over 50 days to detect radioisotopes venting from North Korea's previous test.

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5:00 a.m. Thursday

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is calling on the U.N. Security Council to hold North Korea accountable "by imposing a tough, comprehensive and credible package of new sanctions" in response to that country's announced nuclear test.

Ambassador Samantha Power issued a statement shortly after the council met in an emergency session on Pyongyang's announcement.

Power says the international community must respond to the news with "steadily increasing pressure" and rigorous enforcement of existing sanctions.

A council statement says it will begin work immediately on a resolution for new measures against North Korea.

Power's statement also says North Korea has "isolated itself and impoverished its people through its reckless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction."

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4:05 a.m. Thursday

Japan's U.N. ambassador says the Security Council will hurt its credibility if it fails to swiftly adopt a new resolution imposing "significant" new measures against North Korea in response to its announced nuclear test.

Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa spoke to reporters shortly after the council met in emergency session Wednesday. Japan, the United States and South Korea requested the meeting.

Yoshikawa would not go into detail on what kinds of punitive measures Japan would like to see, saying that must be discussed among the council's 15 members.

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3:58 a.m. Thursday

The White House says the U.S. government's early analysis of underground activity in North Korea "is not consistent" with that country's claim of having conducted a successful hydrogen bomb test.

Spokesman Josh Earnest also says nothing has happened to change the U.S. government's assessment of North Korea's technical or military capabilities.

He says the U.S. government is still doing the work that's needed to learn more about the nuclear test North Korea claims to have conducted successfully on Wednesday.

Pyongyang's announcement of a successful hydrogen bomb test would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

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3:41 a.m. Thursday

Ukraine's U.N. ambassador says no member of the U.N. security Council spoke out against imposing new sanctions against North Korea during the council's closed-door emergency meeting on Pyongyang's announced nuclear test.

Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko spoke to reporters shortly after the council meeting Wednesday.

He also says China, which is traditionally North Korea's closest ally, said nothing in the meeting beyond its "standard" comments on North Korea's nuclear situation. China did not comment to reporters after the meeting.

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3:36 a.m. Thursday

Russia's U.N. ambassador says it would be going "too far" to say that Russia supports more sanctions against North Korea in response to the country's announcement of a new nuclear test.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that Russia has yet to see a draft of a resolution that the U.N. Security Council says it will begin work on immediately.

Churkin spoke shortly after the council met in emergency session and behind closed doors on North Korea's announcement.

Russia is one of Pyongyang's strongest allies.

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3:20 a.m. Thursday

The U.N. Security Council strongly condemns North Korea's nuclear test and pledges to pursue new sanctions.

A statement issued by the council after emergency closed-door consultations on Wednesday called the test "a clear violation" of council resolutions, adding "therefore a clear threat to international peace and security continues to exist."

The council said it had previously expressed determination to take "further significant measures" in the event of another North Korean test and would begin work immediately on a new sanctions resolution in light of "the gravity of this violation."

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2:30 a.m. Thursday

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke by phone Wednesday to his South Korean counterpart Han Min-Koo, and they agreed that a North Korean nuclear test would be an "unacceptable and irresponsible provocation," according to Carter's press secretary, Peter Cook.

Cook said Carter reaffirmed the United States' treaty commitment to defend South Korea, which he said includes "all aspects of the United States' extended deterrence" - an allusion to a longstanding U.S. promise to defend South Korea with nuclear weapons if necessary.

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12:30 a.m. Thursday

The United Nations secretary-general is condemning North Korea's announcement of its latest nuclear test, calling it "profoundly destabilizing for regional security."

Ban Ki-moon demands that Pyongyang cease any further nuclear activities and meet its obligations for "for verifiable denuclearization."

Ban spoke to reporters shortly before the U.N. Security Council met in emergency session on North Korea's announcement — the first step toward a likely tightening of international sanctions on the country.

The U.N. chief says the latest test is "deeply troubling" and "once again violates numerous Security Council resolutions despite the united call by the international community to cease such activities."

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12:30 a.m. Thursday

Britain's ambassador to the United Nations says an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council will aim to agree on a statement condemning North Korea's nuclear test and will follow up with a resolution expanding sanctions against the country.

Matthew Rycroft told several reporters ahead of the emergency meeting that "the Security Council needs to be clear in its condemnation and robust in its response."

He said the test is another example of the Pyongyang regime's "reckless challenge to international norms of behavior and the authority of the U.N. Security Council."

"We strongly condemn this provocation which endangers international peace and security," Rycroft said.

The Security Council has imposed sanctions on North Korea since 2006, but Pyongyang has ignored them and moved ahead with its nuclear program.

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11:30 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister is condemning North Korea's announcement that it conducted a hydrogen bomb test and calling for the international community to respond with determination and clarity.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement Wednesday that "the North Korean nuclear program and the repeated nuclear tests are serious threats to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and an attack on the worldwide nonproliferation regime."

Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said it's too early to evaluate what actually happened in North Korea. Steinmeier spoke Wednesday with his Japanese counterpart.

The Philippines also said it was gravely concerned. The statement released by its Foreign Affairs office said the Philippines strongly condemned the test as a violation of Security Council resolutions.

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9:30 p.m.

Italy says Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni will be calling his Japanese counterpart to discuss "the necessary reactions of the international community" to what Rome calls North Korea's "provocation" if it is confirmed that a nuclear test was carried out.

Japan currently holds the rotating helm of the Group of 7 industrialized nations. Italy is a G-7 member.

Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that a nuclear test by North Korea would "represent a grave violation of international law and of the pertinent U.N. Security Council resolutions and a serious threat to international and regional peace and security."

The statement added that Gentiloni, "in condemning such a violation, calls on North Korea to honor its international obligations."

North Korea said Wednesday that it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test — a move that would put the country a step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

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9:20 p.m.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the nuclear weapons test announced by North Korea is a "clear breach" of U.N. Security Council resolutions and "undermines regional and international security."

Stoltenberg said in a statement Wednesday, "I condemn the continued development by North Korea of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and its inflammatory and threatening rhetoric."

He called on North Korea's government to "fully respect its international obligations and commitments."

North Korea said Wednesday that it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test — a move that would put the country a step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

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7:30 p.m.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says it hasn't been confirmed that North Korea has carried out an actual nuclear test.

In a statement, the ministry calls on "all interested sides to preserve maximum restraint and to not take actions that could rouse the uncontrolled growth of tensions in Northeast Asia."

— Jim Heintz, Moscow

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7:15 p.m.

The EU foreign policy chief says that North Korea's nuclear test, if confirmed, would represent "a grave violation of the DPRK's international obligations not to produce or test nuclear weapons."

Federica Mogherini said in a statement that these obligations are determined by U.N. Security Council resolutions. The North's action would represent "a threat to the peace and security of the entire Northeast Asia region."

She called on North Korea to re-engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue with the international community, in particular in the framework of the six-nation talks, "and to cease this illegal and dangerous behavior."

She says she will consult with South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers and work with the U.N. Security Council meeting in an emergency session later Wednesday.

— Raf Casert, Brussels

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6:40 p.m.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says if confirmed, North Korea's hydrogen bomb test would be in in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and "is deeply regrettable."

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano issued a statement which urged North Korea to implement fully all relevant resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA.

Amano said that IAEA remains ready to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue by resuming its nuclear verification activities in the North once a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.

— George Jahn, Vienna

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6:20 p.m.

Britain's foreign secretary says that if a nuclear bomb has been detonated by North Korea, it would be a grave breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Philip Hammond condemned North Korea's announcement of the nuclear test, and said it underlined the "very real threat that North Korea represents to regional and international security."

Hammond, who is visiting China, said in a statement that he discussed the matter with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. He says they "have agreed to work with other members of the U.N. Security Council towards a robust international response."

Hammond said he would also speak Wednesday with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

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6:10 p.m.

A South Korean lawmaker says the country's spy agency told him in a private briefing that Pyongyang may not have conducted a hydrogen bomb test given the relatively small size of the seismic wave reported.

Lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo says the National Intelligence Service told him that an estimated explosive yield of six kilotons and a quake with a magnitude of 4.8 were detected Wednesday.

According to him, that's smaller than the estimated explosive yield of 7.9 kilotons and a quake with a magnitude of 4.9 that were reported after the 2013 nuclear test, and only a fraction of a typical successful hydrogen bomb test's explosive yield of hundreds of kilotons.

Lee says the agency told him that even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation typically yields tens of kilotons. Lee sits on the parliament's intelligence committee.

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5:10 p.m.

China, Australia and France have strongly condemned North Korea's announcement of a nuclear test.

China, the North's closest ally, says the reported test was carried out in defiance of the international community and urged North Korea to refrain from acts that might worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says in a statement Wednesday that the action "confirms North Korea's status as a rogue state and a continuing threat to international peace and security."

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement that "France condemns this unacceptable violation of Security Council resolutions and calls for a strong reaction from the international community."

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4:30 p.m.

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye has convened an emergency national security council meeting and is vowing a tough response to the North's bomb test.

Park said at the start of the meeting that the government "must get North Korea to face corresponding measures based on closed cooperation with the international community."

She says: "It's not only grave provocation of our national security, but also an act that threatens our lives and future. It's also a direct challenge to world peace and stability."

Park also ordered the military to bolster its combined defense posture with the U.S. military, saying South Korea will sternly deal with any additional provocation by North Korea.

She called for a swift, accurate analysis on the North's claim to have conducted a hydrogen bomb test.

— Hyung-jin Kim, Seoul, South Korea

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3:45 p.m.

In Pyongyang, North Koreans reacted enthusiastically to the news that the country has carried out its fourth nuclear test since 2006.

Kim Sok Chol, a 32-year-old man who watched the TV announcement on a big screen at the train station square, told The Associated Press that he does not know much about what a hydrogen bomb is, but added that "since we have it, the U.S. will not attack us. I think the first successful H-bomb test is a great national event."

Ri Sol Yong, a 22-year-old university student, said the test "gives us more national pride."

She said, "Thanks to the fact that our country is a nuclear weapons state, I can study at the university without any worries. If we didn't have powerful nuclear weapons, we would already have been turned into the slaves of the U.S."

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2:25 p.m.

The White House says it can't confirm a North Korean nuclear test, but said it would condemn such a test as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea said Wednesday it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test — a move that would put the country a step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the U.S. is "aware of seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula in the vicinity of a known North Korean nuclear test site and have seen Pyongyang's claims of a nuclear test."

He calls on North Korea to abide by its international obligations and commitments and said the U.S. consistently made clear that it will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state and will continue to defend U.S. allies in the region.

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2:10 p.m.

Crowds dressed in thick winter coats have gathered outside a large video screen near a Pyongyang train station to cheer and take video and photos on their mobile phones of the state TV anchor announcing the country had carried out a nuclear test.

Some people raised their hands and applauded. Many smiled and cheered.

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2 p.m.

South Korea says it will consult with allies and regional powers to get North Korea to face the consequences of the nuclear test it said it had carried out, such as additional U.N. sanctions.

Presidential security official Cho Tae-yong says: "We strongly condemn" the North's fourth bomb test.

He says North Korea must abide by U.N. resolutions that require the country to scrap its nuclear and ballistic missile programs completely and irreversibly.

South Korea's Defense Ministry also says it is bolstering security and monitoring on North Korea.

— Hyung-jin Kim, Seoul, South Korea

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1:45 p.m.

The head of the U.N. Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which monitors worldwide for nuclear testing, says if confirmed, a nuclear test by North Korea would be a breach of the treaty and a grave threat to international peace and security.

Lassina Zerbo says in a statement that the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing has been respected by 183 countries since 1996.

Zerbo urged North Korea to refrain from further nuclear testing and join the 183 states who have signed the treaty.

— George Jahn, Vienna

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1:40 p.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the North Korean announcement of a hydrogen bomb test is a threat to his nation's safety.

Abe told reporters: "We absolutely cannot allow this, and condemn it strongly."

He called it a violation of the U.N. Security Council agreements that is against the global efforts toward nuclear disarmament.

Abe says he will take "strong action," work with other nations, the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia, as well as through the U.N.

— Yuri Kageyama, Tokyo

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1:25 p.m.

The U.N. organization monitoring the world for signs of nuclear testing says it has detected "an unusual event in the Korean Peninsula."

The head of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization Lassina Zerbo says in a statement: "Our International Monitoring System detected an unusual seismic event in the Korean Peninsula at latitude 41.27 longitude 129.10."

The location on the map places the epicenter at North Korea's Pyunggye-ri testing site in its northeastern mountains, where all of its nuclear tests have been conducted.

North Korea said Wednesday it had conducted a hydrogen bomb test, which, if confirmed, would put Pyongyang a big step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

— George Jahn, Vienna