Amid signs of renewed nuclear development activity in North Korea, U.S. and Asian diplomats warned the regime on Monday that it will face a united international community and harsh sanctions if it carries out a nuclear test its neighbors suspect is being readied.
The U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Glyn Davies, met in Seoul with representatives from the other nations of the stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs for the first time since Pyongyang carried out a failed rocket launch April 13.
The Unha-3 rocket, which foreign intelligence services believe was a test of long-range missile-firing capability, flew for less than two minutes before it broke up and fell into the Yellow Sea west of South Korea.
“It is very important that North Korea not miscalculate again and engage in any future provocation,” Davies told reporters at the South Korean Foreign Ministry after his talks with counterparts from Seoul and Japan. He plans to travel to China and Japan later this week.
Davies described relations with North Korea as "in a bit of an uncertain period" in the few months since Kim Jong Un took the helm of the reclusive nation. North Korean officials had agreed just six weeks ahead of the failed rocket launch to abide by U.N. resolutions limiting their nuclear activities in exchange for food aid for a population suffering widespread malnutrition.
Apparently referring to the withheld food shipments, Davies said that the "engagement aspect remains open. If they make the right choices, there can be a different future for North Korea."
Pyongyang carried out rocket tests in 2006 and 2009 that were followed by underground nuclear explosions. Any such test now would prompt "swift and sure" punishment by the U.N. Security Council, Davies said.
South Korean intelligence reports have cited recent satellite images of tunneling activity at the site of the previous two nuclear bomb detonations. The 38 North website at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies also reported last week that North Korea has resumed work after months of inactivity on a light-water reactor believed to be an important component of its quest for nuclear weapons.
--Carol J. Williams in Los Angeles
Photo: U.S. special envoy on North Korea Glyn Davies answers reporter's questions in Seoul on Monday after meeting with other representatives to the stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear programs. Credit: Lee Jin-man / Associated Press.