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US and allies warn North Korea of 'unparalleled' pushback

Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo have attempted to discourage Pyongyang from testing another nuke

The US, South Korea, and Japan warned North Korea on Wednesday that it would face an "unparalleled" response should it test another nuclear weapon.

Their statement comes amid heightened tensions around the Korean Peninsula and long-running concerns in the US administration that Pyongyang may conduct another atomic test.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Tokyo, Cho Hyun-dong, South Korea's first vice foreign minister, stated that the three allies had "agreed that an unparalleled scale of response would be necessary if North Korea pushes ahead with a seventh nuclear test." The official delivered his remarks after meeting with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

Echoing the Korean minister's comments, Sherman urged Pyongyang "to refrain from further provocations," denouncing North Korean military activities as "reckless and deeply destabilizing." She also noted that another nuclear test in the region would have "implications for the security of the entire world." 

The warnings come after Sherman promised on Tuesday that the US would use its full military might, including nuclear weapons, to protect South Korea and Japan should they come under attack, while also condemning recent missile launches by North Korea.

In recent months, the administration of US President Joe Biden has been increasingly worried about North Korea's military activity, especially given that Pyongyang's nuclear forces recently claimed they had successfully completed a test simulating the loading of tactical warheads into a hidden silo.

The last time North Korea fired a nuke was in September 2017, when it claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded into an intercontinental ballistic missile. The move sparked a massive international outcry, with the UN imposing a raft of economic sanctions to curb Pyongyang's nuclear program.

North Korea insists that its nuclear arsenal is intended only for self-defense and that its recent ballistic missile launches came in response to large-scale military exercises by the US and South Korea. Kim Jong-un, the nation's leader, also warned that "irresponsible aggravation of the situation by the US and South Korean regimes" would trigger an even stronger response from Pyongyang.