South Korea flexes military muscle as powers mull response to Pyongyang
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South Korea flexes military muscle as powers mull response to Pyongyang

Seoul drills attack on North nuke site after apparent test of hydrogen bomb; Security Council to meet for second time in days

South Korean soldiers sit on the top of a military armored vehicle on the road in the border city of Paju on September 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Donga Ilbo/STR)
South Korean soldiers sit on the top of a military armored vehicle on the road in the border city of Paju on September 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Donga Ilbo/STR)

South Korea launched a ballistic missile exercise late Sunday in response to Pyongyang’s provocative detonation of what it claimed was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, state news agency Yonhap reported.

The move came as world powers scheduled an urgent meeting at the UN Security Council to discuss dealing with North Korean tensions, the second high-level parley in days.

South Korea’s military conducted a live-fire exercise simulating an attack on the North’s nuclear site, hitting “designated targets in the East Sea,” Yonhap said, quoting the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The training came in response to the North’s sixth nuclear test… and involved the country’s Hyunmoo ballistic missile and the F-15K fighter jets,” it said.

South Korean army’s K-1 tanks are seen in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The South’s military said the range to the simulated targets were equivalent to the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site in its northeastern province.

US President Donald Trump Sunday criticized Seoul for not taking a hard enough line against their neighbor the the north.

South Korea, Trump said, “is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”

US Defense Secretary James Mattis, left, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrive to speak to the press about the situation in North Korea at the White House in Washington, DC, September 3, 2017. (AFP/NICHOLAS KAMM)

The United States warned it could launch a “massive military response” to threats from North Korea.

The tough talk from Washington came as the White House searched for a response to the escalating crisis. Kim Jong Un’s regime on Sunday claimed “perfect success” in an underground test of what it called a hydrogen bomb. It was the North’s sixth nuclear test since 2006 — the first since Trump took office in January — and involved a device potentially vastly more powerful than a nuclear bomb.

US President Donald Trump, asked by a reporter during a trip to church services if he would attack the North, said: “We’ll see.” No US military action appeared imminent, and the immediate focus appeared to be on ratcheting up economic penalties, which have had little effect thus far.

At the same time, the US and South Korea joined Japan, France and Britain in requesting an emergency Security Council meeting after North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date.

In this undated image distributed on Sunday, September 3, 2017, by the North Korean government, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location. North Korea’s state media on Sunday, Sept 3, 2017, said Kim inspected the loading of a hydrogen bomb into a new intercontinental ballistic missile (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

It will be the Security Council’s second urgent session in under a week on the North’s weapons tests, which have continued in the face of a series of sanctions.

After North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan, the council Tuesday strongly condemned the test and reiterated demands that Pyongyang halt its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

Monday could bring additional condemnation and discussion of other potential steps.

Trump warned last month that the US military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” and that the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on the North if it continued to threaten America. The bellicose words followed threats from North Korea to launch ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, intending to create “enveloping fire” near the military hub that’s home to U.S. bombers and other aircraft.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Sunday’s nuclear test. His spokesman calls it “profoundly destabilizing for regional security.”

 

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