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North Korea claims 5th nuclear test

A passenger watches a TV screen broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing three ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, September 5, 2016.
A passenger watches a TV screen broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing three ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, September 5, 2016. Reuters

An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council is being held on Friday to discuss steps moving forward.

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North Korea has said it can now mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, with the explosive power of 10 Kilotons, only five Kilotons short of the bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.

Many analysts say it is unlikely North Korea will send the missile to another country, such as Japan or the United States, for fear of strong repercussions, including invasion on North Korean soil.

Some experts say they are more concerned,about potential nuclear accidents caused as a result of these tests.

“[A nuclear accident] might lead to war in North Korea,” Remco Breuker, a Korean Studies professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands told RFI.

“You can’t just leave North Korea to deal with that kind of problem, which means outside forces would need to enter the country, which North Korea would never allow, which sould probably lead to a rapidly escalating situation,” said Breuker.

The threat of a nuclear accident is said to be a real risk given that no clear security measures have been put in place for these tests.

Sanctions not enough?

International leaders have historically responded to North Korean missile tests with harsh economic sanctions, but that may not be enough for Kim Jong Un’s regime, analysts warn.

“Sanctions don’t work. Talks don’t work. Engagement doesn’t work,” said Breuker, who promotes engagement with the North Korean people as opposed to the government.

“If you focus on the North Korean people, you can empower those people which in the end will hopefully create a North Korean society and government with whom you can actually talk and do business,” said Breuker.

Pressure on China

China, in particular, will play a crucial role in North Korea's future actions, as it has historically been known as North Korea's only real ally, providing crucial economic support to the country.

The country has condemned North Korea’s latest announcement about the nuclear test, but many analysts suspect it won't cut off ties completely.

“China has already come out with a critical statement of the nuclear test, but they added a line to say the South Korean deployment of a US missile was a result of North Koreans being prompted to do it,” Rajeswari Pillei, who heads the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative in New Delhi, told RFI.

“If the Chinese are going to come out with a statement of this kind it is going to encourage the North Korean regime to carry out these belligerent activities and it’s not good for regional stability,” said Pillei.

In a statement from China’s state run Xinua news agency, the media outlet noted North Korea violated UN Security Council resolutions, criticising the nuclear test as ‘unwise’.

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