South Korea warns of tough measures as North nuclear test seen imminent

SEOUL Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:38pm IST

A rocket is carried by a military vehicle during a military parade to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang April 15, 2012 in this picture released by North Korea's KCNA on April 16, 2012. REUTERS/KCNA/Files

A rocket is carried by a military vehicle during a military parade to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang April 15, 2012 in this picture released by North Korea's KCNA on April 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/KCNA/Files

Related Topics

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea warned the North not to make the mistake of conducting a third nuclear test and its president summoned top security officials for an unscheduled meeting on Thursday, amid signs the rival was moving ahead with preparations.

The warning by the outgoing administration of Lee Myung-bak was the toughest yet after North Korea vowed to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests in response to a U.N. censure for its launch of a long-range missile in December.

South Korea and others who have been closely observing activities at the North's known nuclear test grounds believe Pyongyang is technically ready for a nuclear test and is awaiting the final word from supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

"The government urges the North to immediately stop all acts and language of aggressive nature and abide by international obligations including U.N. Security Council resolutions," the South's presidential spokesman said.

"We warn that if the North ever makes a wrong judgment and again undertakes provocation, there will be grave consequences," the spokesman said after Lee met with security officials.

Lee called the meeting because of "specific moves" that suggested the North might be going ahead with the test, the spokesman Park Jeong-ha said.

North Korea's top state agencies have leveled fiery rhetoric since last week, also threatening to attack the South if it joined a new round of tightened sanctions under a new resolution imposed after Pyongyang's December 12 rocket launch.

North Korea says the rocket launch was part of a space programme but the international community is nearly united in seeing it as a disguised test of a long-range and probably intercontinental ballistic missile.

A conservative South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo later on Thursday quoted a senior government official as saying no option was off the table, when asked if military action was possible against the North.

Lee's office could not verify the nature of the comment but an official said it would not be possible to say whether a military action is or is not an option.

"North Korea must be made to feel the pain through all options to hurt it," the Munhwa daily quoted the senior government official as saying.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

FILED UNDER:

REUTERS SHOWCASE

26/11 Accused

26/11 Accused

Pakistan to appeal bail for Mumbai attack "mastermind".  Full Article 

Android For cars

Android For cars

Exclusive: Google aiming to go straight into car with next Android – sources.  Full Article 

Mass Stabbing

Mass Stabbing

Eight children killed in Australia in reported mass stabbing.  Full Article 

In Distress

In Distress

Former SpiceJet owner leading rescue plan: reports.  Full Article 

PM's Moves

PM's Moves

Modi moves in to speed up $300 billion stuck projects.  Full Article 

Losing Popularity

Losing Popularity

Dalai Lama's star waning in the West, China official says.  Full Article 

Tis' The Season

Tis' The Season

Stars around the world wish you Happy Holidays.  Video 

Cyber Warfare

Cyber Warfare

For N.Korea's cyber army, long-term target may be telecoms, utility grids.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage