Officials at the national earthquake situation room of the Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul, South Korea are analyzing the artificial earthquake data from a nuclear test in North Korea. [Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]
South Korea on Monday carried out a series of precision ballistic missile tests in a show of force after North Korea pushed up brinkmanship to a new level by conducting a sixth nuclear test Sunday in what appears to be the most powerful and close to completion of a nuclear warhead mountable on an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The presidential office said Seoul and Washington were negotiating deployment of U.S. strategic nuclear bombers and warships and revision of the missile guideline to allow South Korea to up the maximum payload of its ballistic missiles.
Deputy Prime Minister Kim Dong-yeon chaired a economy-related meeting to reinforce around-the-clock monitoring of the financial markets and capital flow so that escalated geopolitical risks do not cause lasting harm to the economy.
The Korean financial markets were rattled by weekend news. The composite stock price index Kospi that plunged 1.7 percent early closed Monday 1.2 percent down at 2,329.65 despite heavy buying from institutional players. The Kosdaq finished 1.9 percent lower. The Korean won sank 12.50 to 1,133.00 against the U.S. dollar.
Pyongyang’s state news agency confirmed Sunday the country had “successfully” detonated a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and capable of nuclear yield of tens and hundreds kilotons.
The test, which followed the launch last week of a ballistic missile over Japan into the Pacific, is Pyongyang’s another tactic to induce Washington into direct negotiations after escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula to the highest possible level, military experts said.
The North`s latest test was carried out at noon on Sunday local time at the Punggye-ri site where it has conducted past nuclear tests. North Korea claimed the test demonstrated its ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads on long-range ballistic missiles. Officials in Seoul put the magnitude at 5.7, five to six times as powerful as the North’s last nuclear test a year ago.
The timing of the test on Sunday was no coincidence. It came just six days ahead of the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean regime, suggesting it was designed to solidify Kim’s control of the Stalinist country.
By Lee Jin-myung and Kang Gye-man
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