SEOUL, South Korea
— Neighbors of North Korea
condemned what it said was its first test of a hydrogen bomb on Wednesday, calling the development a threat to the region’s stability and a violation of United Nations resolutions banning nuclear arms tests by the North.
In Seoul, President Park Geun-hye convened an urgent meeting of her top national security aides. As South Korea’s military increased its vigilance along the heavily militarized border with the North, its diplomats rushed to discuss with allies what Ms. Park called “strong sanctions” against Pyongyang
“Now, the government should closely cooperate with the international community to make sure that North Korea
pays a corresponding price for the nuclear test,” Ms. Park was quoted as telling her aides.
Analysts have cast doubt on the North’s assertion that the test carried out Wednesday morning — detected around the world as a tremor along the country’s northeast coast — was of a hydrogen bomb, which would be far more powerful than the nuclear devices Pyongyang has tested three times before.
Ms. Park said that more analysis was needed to verify the claim, but that if true, it “could potentially shake up the security landscape of Northeast Asia
and fundamentally change the nature of the North Korean nuclear threat.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan called the test “totally unacceptable” and “a grave threat to Japan’s security,” adding that the country would work with other nations and at the United Nations Security Council to take “firm measures” against Pyongyang.
North Korea is banned from conducting nuclear tests under a series of resolutions the Security Council has adopted in recent years. “The D.P.R.K.’s nuclear test, if confirmed, is in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable,” Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement, using the initials for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Pyongyang’s sole major ally, China, has been increasingly impatient with the North’s behavior and did not hide its displeasure on Wednesday. “Today, despite the opposition of the international community, North Korea carried out a nuclear test,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a news conference in Beijing
. “China is
strongly against this act.”
Russia, which like China shares a border with the North, joined the condemnation. “Such actions are fraught with further aggravation of the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” Reuters quoted Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, as saying.
, Russia and the United States
, along with the two Koreas, are the parties in the long-suspended six-nation talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear weapons program. At a summit meeting in Washington in October, President Park and President Obama urged Pyongyang to rejoin those negotiations and warned it against conducting a fourth nuclear test. But North Korea insisted that the United States first agree to negotiate a peace treaty with the North to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953.
Human Rights Watch used the occasion to step up efforts to hold the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, whose birthday falls on Friday, accountable for the gross human rights violations in his country, including its prison camps.
“Kim Jong-un may think it appropriate to celebrate his birthday early with a nuclear test, but even a hydrogen bomb should not cause the world to forget that the Kim family’s hereditary dictatorship is built on the systematic brutalization and abuse of the North Korean people,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s deputy director for Asia.