South Korea has said it will retaliate for a North Korean nuclear test by resuming cross-border propaganda broadcasts which the North considers an act of war.
The presidential office made the announcement yesterday, a day after the North claimed to have carried out its first hydrogen bomb test. The claim has been disputed by foreign governments and experts.
The South stopped earlier broadcasts after it agreed with Pyongyang in late August on a package of measures aimed at easing animosities.
Seoul said the broadcasts will resume today.
Meanwhile, experts are trying to uncover more details about the detonation which drew worldwide scepticism and condemnation.
It may take weeks or longer to confirm or disprove the North’s claim that it successfully tested an H-bomb, which would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal.
Even a test of an atomic bomb – a less sophisticated and less powerful weapon – would push its scientists and engineers closer to their goal of building a nuclear warhead small enough to place on a missile that can reach the US mainland.
Statements from the White House said President Barack Obama had spoken to regional allies, the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, and to Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. The statements said the countries “agreed to work together to forge a united and strong international response to North Korea’s latest reckless behaviour”.
Mr Obama also reaffirmed the “unshakeable US commitment” to the security of South Korea and Japan, according to the statements.
South Korean and US military leaders further discussed the deployment of US “strategic assets” in the wake of the North’s test, Seoul’s defence ministry said.
Ministry officials refused to elaborate about what US military assets were under consideration, but they probably refer to B-52 bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and nuclear-powered submarines.
When animosities sharply rose in the spring of 2013 following the North’s third nuclear test, the US took the unusual step of sending its most powerful warplanes – B-2 stealth bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and B-52 bombers – to military exercises with South Korea in a show of force.