The United States, Japan and South Korea warned on Wednesday that a North Korean nuclear test would provoke “an unprecedented strong response” and pledged to maintain unity in the face of multiple weapons tests by Pyongyang.
At a meeting in Tokyo, the vice foreign ministers of the three countries also pledged to strengthen deterrence capacity in the region.
“We have agreed to further strengthen cooperation … so that North Korea immediately ceases its illegal activities and returns to denuclearization talks,” South Korea’s Cho Hyun-dong said.
“All three countries agreed on the need for an unprecedented response should North Korea conduct its seventh nuclear test.”
South Korea and the United States have repeatedly warned that Pyongyang is about to carry out a nuclear test, the first since 2017.
The isolated communist country has carried out a record number of weapons tests since the start of the year, and announced this month that it had carried out tactical nuclear exercises.
“All of this behavior is irresponsible and deeply destabilizing,” said US Under-Secretary of State Wendy Sherman before urging North Korea to “refrain from any further provocation”.
Japanese Deputy Minister Takeo Mori said that “North Korea’s escalation of nuclear and ballistic activities…poses a clear and serious challenge to the international community.”
The three countries agreed to “strengthen deterrence in the region, aiming at the denuclearization of North Korea”, he added.