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July, 26, 2016

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Regional powers expected to team up after H-bomb test

TAIPEI -- A Taiwanese lawmaker and military expert predicted Wednesday that South Korea will seek closer cooperative ties with its neighboring countries, including mainland China, Japan and the United States after a reported successful hydrogen bomb test in North Korea.

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who is a member of the Legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee, said the incident means South Korea, Japan and the U.S. have not acquired adequate intelligence on Pyongyang's military technologies.

U.S. officials scoffed at North Korea when it claimed to own hydrogen bombs, Lin said. The U.S. government has always trusted in its military technologies and is convinced that it knows everything about North Korea through its tracking of the communist regime through artificial satellites and telecommunications monitoring systems.

Apparently, over the past decade as the U.S. was underestimating North Korea, the latter used all of its national strength to develop military technologies, Lin said. Now "the U.S. has mud on its face."

The successful nuclear test means South Korea would be the first one to be hit if any such weapon is deployed, Lin said, noting that Japan, mainland China and the U.S. could all be within the range of an H-bomb attack.

"To a certain extent, North Korea has impelled countries, which all have conflicting interests against each other, to be more cooperative with each other so that they can jointly deal with the new challenge," Lin said.

According to Japan's NHK, the state-run North Korean Central Television reported at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday that a successful hydrogen bomb test had been conducted, the first in the country.

Government Reaction

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) convened a security meeting with high-level officials later in the day, according to Presidential Office spokesman Chen Yi-hsin (陳以信).

Ma was greatly concerned by the incident and immediately held a meeting with Premier Mao Chi-Kuo (毛治國) and National Security Council Secretary-General Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) to discuss the situation, Chen said.

The president asked national security units to closely monitor the incident and government agencies to respond with caution, he said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said Taiwan can do nothing about North Korea's threat to the security of the region. Nevertheless, he urged President Ma to take economic and diplomatic actions if necessary to defend regional security.

Boost Japan-South Korea Military Cooperation: Scholar

Tsai Zheng-jia, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of National Chengchi University, said that the nuclear test by North Korea could lead Japan and South Korea to boost their military cooperation in the face of a common enemy.

He raised concern that Japan could take advantage of the nuclear issue to try to free itself from a non-nuclear weapons policy.

The test reflects the failure of the U.S.' policy of isolation, which Tsai said caused Pyongyang to become more and more aggressive.

The nuclear test snuffed out hopes of reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, and suggested North Korea may want to gradually break free of mainland China's control, the scholar said.

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