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N. Korea's nuke test to lead to tighter U.S. sanctions: Einhorn

2014/04/23 14:40

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- The United States is expected to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea if the communist country conducts another nuclear test, a former U.S. arms control official said Wednesday.

The remarks by Robert Einhorn came a day after Seoul's defense ministry said increased activities have been detected at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the communist country. Pyongyang conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013, drawing condemnation and sanctions by the international community.

Late last month, the North threatened to conduct a "new form" of nuclear test amid growing international pressure on the country to give up its nuclear weapons.

"There is no question, if there is fourth round of test, the U.S. will take additional sanctions, steps," Einhorn, a former adviser on nonproliferation and arms control at the U.S. State Department, said in a press meeting on the sidelines of an international forum in Seoul.

"And they will increase the overall effectiveness of the sanctions regime against North Korea. I think it would be a real mistake in terms of North Korea's own interest for them to go ahead with a nuclear test."

   Einhorn stressed the importance of China's role in the international community's push to end the North Korean nuclear weapons program, saying an additional nuke test by the North would prod China to take more punitive actions.

"The government of China has tried very hard to persuade the North not to go forward with this test. In the face of strong Chinese efforts, authorities in Beijing come together at the United Nations Security Council and elsewhere to impose very strong penalties against North Korea," he said.

Touching on North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile development, Einhorn said, with additional nuclear and missile test, the North may complete its development of long-range nuclear weapons capable of reaching the U.S.

"Our guess is that they are working to miniaturize nuclear devices so that they can deploy them on long-range missiles, even ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S.," he said.

"We doubt very much that they have achieved that capability, but with additional test of long-range missiles with additional nuclear test, they will approach that capacity. (But) they are not there yet right now."

   pbr@yna.co.kr

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