In a show of unity in dealing with North Korea, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan jointly warned the communist nation Monday not to take any more provocative steps.
"If North Korea goes ahead with another nuclear test, we, along with the international community, will make it pay the price for that," South Korea's top nuclear envoy Hwang Joon-kook told reporters in Washington, D.C. "North Korea's nuclear test would be a direct challenge to the international community, and a threat to peace and security in the world."
He was briefing media on the results of a trilateral meeting with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Glyn Davies and Junichi Ihara.
The tripartite session, the first in five months, came as the unpredictable communist nation threatens to carry out a "new type" of nuclear test.
It was a follow-up on a summit agreement between the leaders of the three regional powers in The Hague, the Netherlands, last month.
The three regional powers agreed to make "united and effective" efforts to prevent North Korea from taking further provocative steps, according to Hwang.
Simultaneously, they will keep exploring ways to restart the six-party talks for the substantial denuclearization of North Korea, he added.
The U.S. State Department also said the three nations urged Pyongyang to "refrain from further threatening actions."
"These discussions reflect the close ongoing cooperation between our three countries, as well as our common values and interests across the Asia-Pacific region," the department said in a media note.
It added Seoul, Washington and Tokyo reaffirmed their commitment to the Sept. 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the six-way talks and its core goal: the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.
Under the deal, North Korea is obliged to abandon its entire nuclear program in return for political and economic incentives from South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.
But its viability has been questioned, with the six-party talks in limbo for more than five years.
The three countries also vowed to continue close cooperation to address the human rights problem in the secretive North, according to the U.S. State Department.
"We pledged to continue working closely with each other and with our allies and partners in the international community to focus international attention on the deplorable human rights situation in North Korea, and to hold the DPRK (North Korea) accountable for its systematic and ongoing violations of the human rights of its people," it said. (Yonhap)