South Korea will resume front-line loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts on Friday in response to North Korea’s self-proclaimed hydrogen bomb test, as the U.N. Security Council is poised to draw up a fresh resolution of stronger sanctions against the communist state.
The move is expected to draw a strong protest from the North, as the contents of the broadcasts including the benefits of a capitalist, much more affluent South Korea would help North Koreans become aware of the autocratic nature of the regime.
The broadcasts will resume at noon on Friday, Cheong Wa Dae’s National Security Office announced.
“In defiance of the warnings of South Korea and the international community, North Korea announced its conducting of a fourth nuclear test. This is a direct violation of its commitments for the U.N. Security Council and the international community, and of the Aug. 25 (inter-Korean) agreement,” NSO deputy chief Cho Tae-yong told reporters.
“Our military is fully prepared. We will sternly retaliate if North Korea launches a provocation.”
Under the Aug. 25 accord, Seoul stopped the propaganda broadcasts, which were resumed following Pyongyang’s landmine provocation on Aug. 4. The accord stipulated that Seoul would suspend the broadcasts unless an “abnormal” situation occurs.
The North has called the broadcasts a “threat to its (communist) system,” as the broadcasts highlight South Korea’s economic advancement, the benefits of liberal democracy, the importance of human rights and call for the restoration of the divided nation’s homogeneity, among other things.
Seoul also expected a resolution of “stronger” sanctions from the UNSC to be adopted to punish Pyongyang for its fourth nuclear test, after the council condemned the latest provocation following its emergency session Wednesday.
A senior official at Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said the UNSC would explore ways to strengthen sanctions stipulated in the four UNSC sanctions resolutions, which were adopted after the North’s past three nuclear tests and one long-range rocket experiment.
“Although we are not a member state of the UNSC, we are in close consultations with the member states, given that we are the directly concerned party,” he told reporters on the customary condition of anonymity.
“We plan to make our utmost efforts to ensure that stronger, substantive and very effective sanctions would come out.”
On the previous day, the UNSC, currently chaired by Uruguay, held urgent consultations and issued a press statement in which it condemned what Pyongyang claimed to be a hydrogen bomb test and called it a clear violation of UNSC resolutions banning nuclear tests and of the nonproliferation regime.
“The members of the Security Council also recalled that they have previously expressed their determination to take ‘further significant measures’ in the event of another DPRK (North Korea) nuclear test,” the statement reads.
“And in line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin to work immediately on such measures in a new Security Council resolution.”
The UNSC is expected to consider strengthening the existing sanctions such as arms embargoes, interdiction of North Korea-related cargo, financial sanctions and sanctions on particular individuals or entities including North Korean enterprises.
The Seoul official said the possibility of applying new types of sanctions cannot be ruled out.
“The sanctions panel under the UNSC has made a series of recommendations. These recommendations could be turned into real (binding) sanctions,” the official said.
For example, North Korea’s state-run Oceans Maritime Management has changed the names of its administered ships to evade international sanctions. The sanctions panel could track the name changes and apply sanctions on the ships with new names, he explained.
There was also a unique case in which the International Astronautic Federation canceled the membership of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration due to its test launch of a long-range rocket, he said.
The stance of China, the North’s traditional ally, remains a crucial variable in the process of crafting a new resolution, the official hinted.
“China has clearly stated that it would abide by the requirements of the UNSC resolutions,” he said. “But as the stance of the U.S. and the West can’t be the same as that of China, we have to wait and see what kind of position (China) would take at the last moment.”
The Seoul official raised the possibility that the sanctions resolution could come out within this month, given the current UNSC Uruguayan chair finishes his term this month.
In 2006 when the North conducted its first nuclear test, it took five days to issue a UNSC sanctions resolution. After the second nuclear test in 2009, it took 18 days for a resolution to be issued, while following the third nuclear test in 2013, it took 23 days for a resolution to come out.
Meanwhile, President Park Geun-hye and her U.S. counterpart Barack Obama agreed to cooperate closely to make sure the UNSC promptly draws up a resolution entailing “stronger and comprehensive” sanctions against the communist state.
During their 20-mininute telephone talks, the leaders shared the view that Pyongyang should “pay the price” for the nuclear test given that the international community has repeatedly warned that its nuclear tests cannot be condoned, Cheong Wa Dae said.
Obama, in particular, stressed the need for stronger punitive measures against North Korea, and pledged to work in closer cooperation with the South, Park’s office added.
Later in the day, Park also held telephone talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Seoul’s Defense Minister Han Min-koo and his U.S. counterpart Ashton Carter on Wednesday night held telephone talks and agreed that any such test would be an “unacceptable and irresponsible” provocation and is both a flagrant violation of international law and a threat to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the entire Asia-Pacific region.
Carter reaffirmed the ironclad commitment of the U.S. to the defense of the South and that this commitment includes all aspects of the U.S.’ extended deterrence, the U.S. Defense Department said in a statement.
Extended deterrence refers to Washington’s stated commitment to deterring military threats to its key Asian ally South Korea, including those from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
To better cope with Pyongyang’s evolving threats, Han pledged to continue planned joint exercises and establish a tailored deterrence strategy and operational plans based on the principles of “4D” -- detect, defense, disrupt and destroy.
“Detect” represents the allies’ procedures to track North Korea’s missile movements with various intelligence-gathering assets, while “defense” refers to a set of the allied defensive operations to minimize any damage from potential attacks.
“Disrupt” means striking North Korea’s core missile facilities, including supporting installations, followed by the allies’ efforts to “destroy” its mobile transporter-erector-launchers and incoming missiles. The allies have been working to translate the concept into their wartime operational plans.
To respond to the North’s latest provocation, the allies are considering deploying U.S. strategic military assets to the South, a Seoul official said without elaborating. Observers say that options may include the deployment of a strategic nuclear-powered submarine, the B-52 long-range bomber and the F-22 radar-evading fighter jet.
“No decision has yet been made as to when the weapons will be deployed and what will come here. We are currently exploring various options,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Later in the day, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff held a meeting of senior operational commanders from the Army, Navy and Air Force to check security conditions and strengthen the military readiness posture. The meeting was presided over JCS Chairman Gen. Lee Sun-jin.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org