SEOUL – Top nuclear envoys from Japan, South Korea and the United States have agreed to push for “meaningful and new sanctions” in response to North Korea’s latest globally condemned nuclear test, according to U.S. envoy Sung Kim.
Kim, the United States’ special representative for North Korea policy, made the remarks in Seoul on Wednesday after talks with Hwang Joon-kook, South Korea’s special envoy for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, and Kimihiro Ishikane, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.
“The three countries agreed there needs to be meaningful and new sanctions,” Kim said.
North Korea claimed it had tested a device on Jan. 6, marking the country’s fourth nuclear test and first hydrogen bomb test, although some experts have cast doubt on whether it was indeed a true hydrogen bomb, claiming the explosion’s yield was too small for such a weapon.
News of the test was greeted with widespread criticism from around the world, including from China, North Korea’s economic and diplomatic lifeline.
Asked whether China would be involved in helping to achieve sanctions, Kim said he believed it would cooperate on the issue.
“I think the Chinese will agree with us. The only way to send a clear message to Pyongyang is to adopt strong international measures,” Kim said.
Hwang separately said the three countries “agreed to exert utmost diplomatic efforts to work out a strong and comprehensive resolution at the U.N. Security Council.”
Hwang declined to go into detail on what efforts are being made toward that end.
Meanwhile, Hwang plans to visit China on Thursday to hold talks with Wu Dawei, Beijing’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, to hold similar discussions with the Chinese side.
Next Tuesday, he will also visit Moscow to hold talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.
The series of talks between South Korea’s top nuclear envoy and those of four other members of the six-party talks, namely the United States, China, Japan and Russia, came amid mounting calls to take tougher sanctions against North Korea.
The six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have been stalled since late 2008.