Seoul, Jan 7: In response to North Korea's latest nuclear test, South Korea today announced it would resume cross-border propaganda broadcasts that Pyongyang considers an act of war. Seoul also began talks with Washington that could see the arrival of nuclear-powered US aircraft and submarines to the Korean Peninsula.
From Seoul to Washington, Beijing to the United Nations, world powers are looking at ways to punish Pyongyang for the test of what it called a new and powerful hydrogen bomb.
The South's propaganda broadcasts, which will start on Friday, will infuriate authoritarian Pyongyang because they are meant to raise questions in North Korean minds about the infallibility of the ruling Kim family.
The South stopped earlier broadcasts after it agreed with Pyongyang in late August on a package of measures aimed at easing animosities that had the rivals threatening war. Experts, meanwhile, are trying to uncover more details about the detonation that drew worldwide skepticism and condemnation.
It may take weeks or longer to confirm or refute the North's claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, which would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal.
Even a test of an atomic bomb, a less sophisticated and less powerful weapon, would push its scientists and engineers closer to their goal of building a nuclear warhead small enough to place on a missile that can reach the US mainland.
Statements from the White House said President Barack Obama had spoken to South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. The statements said the countries "agreed to work together to forge a united and strong international response to North Korea's latest reckless behavior."
Obama also reaffirmed the "unshakeable US commitment" to the security of South Korea and Japan, according to the statements. South Korean and US military leaders also discussed the deployment of US "strategic assets" in the wake of the North's test, Seoul's Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
Ministry officials refused to elaborate about what US military assets were under consideration, but they likely refer to B-52 bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and nuclear-powered submarines.
When animosities sharply rose in the spring of 2013 following North Korea's third nuclear test, the U.S. took the unusual step of sending its most powerful warplanes B-2 stealth bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and B-52 bombers to drills with South Korea in a show of force. B-2 and B-52 bombers are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.