Theresa May slams North Korea's nuclear tests as 'reckless and unacceptable'

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Theresa May has urged world leaders to put pressure on North Korea after slamming the country’s “reckless” nuclear weapons tests.

The Prime Minister said the latest test poses an “unacceptable further threat to the international community”.

She added that the case for tougher action against Kim Jong Un’s regime was now even more pressing.

Her remarks came after Pyongyang claimed it had carried out a hydrogen bomb test and caused a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme has made huge strides since Kim rose to power in 2011 (AP)

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned that North Korea could present a “new order of threat” if it succeeds in producing a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.

Mrs May said she had discussed the “serious and grave threat these dangerous and illegal actions present” with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during her visit to the country last week and reiterated their joint call for “tougher action, including increasing the pace of implementation of existing sanctions and looking urgently in the UN Security Council at new measures”.

She said: “This is now even more pressing. The international community has universally condemned this test and must come together to continue to increase the pressure on North Korea’s leaders to stop their destabilising actions.”

An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is launched at an undisclosed place in North Korea in July (AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump branded North Korea “a rogue nation” whose “words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous” to the United States.

The US president tweeted that North Korea “has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success”.

Mr Johnson said “all options are on the table” but played down the prospect of military action because Kim’s forces could “vaporise” large parts of the population of South Korea even without nuclear weapons.

Calling for a “common sense” approach, the Foreign Secretary said: “There is no question that this is another provocation, it is reckless, what they are doing is, they seem to be moving closer towards a hydrogen bomb which, if fitted to a successful missile, would unquestionably present a new order of threat.

“We have to consider how to respond and it’s our view in the UK, overwhelmingly, that peaceful diplomatic means are the best.”

Asked how close the crisis was to conflict, Mr Johnson said: “It’s certainly our view that none of the military options are good.

“It is of course right to say that all options are on the table, but we really don’t see an easy military solution.”

The Chinese government “expressed firm opposition and strong condemnation” and urged North Korea to “stop taking erroneous actions that deteriorate the situation”.

But Mr Johnson urged Beijing to go further in putting economic pressure on its neighbour.

He said: “Our message to the Chinese is, and we are working ever more closely with them, we think there is more scope for you, the Chinese, to put economic pressure on the North Koreans.

“It has worked, we have seen signs in the last six months of Chinese pressure actually changing the approach of North Koreans – let’s see if we can do it again.”

The detonation was North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date.

The artificial earthquake triggered by the detonation was several times stronger than from previous blasts and reportedly shook buildings in China and Russia.

The test was carried out at 12.29pm local time at the Punggye-ri site where North Korea has conducted nearly all of its past nuclear tests.

Officials in Seoul put the magnitude of the quake at 5.7 while the US Geological Survey said it was 6.3.


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