North Korea represents a threat not just to Asia but to the United States, Barack Obama, the US president, has said during a brief visit to South Korea.
Obama, who met his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye on Friday in Seoul, warned that the two countries would respond firmly to any “provocations,” according to the Reuters news agency.
In March, North Korea warned it would not rule out a “new form” of nuclear test to boost its nuclear deterrent, after the UN Security Council condemned Pyongyang’s launch of a mid-range ballistic missile into the sea east of the peninsula.
Recent satellite data shows continued work at the nuclear test site in North Korea, although experts analysing the data say that preparations do not appear to have progressed far enough for an imminent test.
“When North Korea is threatening further provocations and publicly discussing the possibility of a further nuclear test, President Obama’s visit to South Korea will send a firm message that North Korea’s provocations will not be tolerated,” Park told a joint news conference.
The two presidents were speaking after a summit in Seoul, the second stop of a four-nation Asia tour for Obama.
In an interview ahead of his arrival in Seoul, Obama warned North Korea could expect a “firm response” if it made “the mistake” of conducting another nuclear test.
Pyongyang, for its part, slammed Obama’s trip earlier this week as a “dangerous” move that would escalate military tension and bring the “dark clouds of a nuclear arms race” over the Korean peninsula.
Adding to the tense mix was the news that a South Korean naval vessel had fired warning shots after two North Korean patrol boats crossed the disputed maritime border on Friday. The boats quickly retreated.