Neighbors step up military preparation after North Korea's third nuclear test
By Foster Klug and Hyung-jin Kim, APSEOUL -- North Korea's neighbors bolstered their military preparations and mobilized scientists Wednesday to determine whether Pyongyang's third nuclear test, conducted in defiance of U.N. warnings, was as successful as the North claimed.
February 14, 2013, 12:36 am TWN
The detonation was also the focus of global diplomatic maneuvers, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reaching out to counterparts in Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo. President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to assure U.S. allies in the region and leveled a warning of “firm action.”
The nuclear device detonated Tuesday at a remote underground site in the northeast is seen as a crucial step toward North Korea's goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the United States.
North Korea said it tested a “smaller and light A-bomb, unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power.” Still, just what happened in the test is unclear to outsiders.
Intelligence officials and analysts in Seoul raised the possibility of another nuclear test and ballistic missile test-launches, and North Korea said its latest test was merely its “first response” to what it called U.S. threats. The North's Foreign Ministry said Pyongyang will continue with unspecified “second and third measures of greater intensity” if Washington maintains its hostility.
South Korea has raised its military readiness alert level, and on Wednesday Seoul used aircraft and ships, as well specialists on the ground, to collect air samples to analyze possibly increased radiation from the test, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry. Japanese fighter jets were dispatched immediately after the test to collect atmospheric samples. Japan has also established monitoring posts, including one on its northwest coast, to collect similar data.