WASHINGTON — The White House said Wednesday that the U.S. government’s initial analysis of seismic tremors in North Korea is not consistent with the country’s claim that it tested a hydrogen bomb. That doesn’t rule out the possibility that a less powerful device was tested.
The Obama administration will continue to monitor the situation, work closely with its allies and partners in the region – including China, Japan and South Korea – and conduct additional analyses to learn more about any nuclear test, said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at a briefing.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with the Chinese ambassador on Wednesday to discuss the administration’s concerns about the reports of the nuclear test.
“Any kind of nuclear test like the one that North Korea conducted last night is provocative and a flagrant violation of United States and [UN] Security Council resolutions,” Earnest said.
The president’s spokesman also expressed concern with North Korea’s “destabilizing effects” over the broader region, a concern he said is shared by China and Russia. He reiterated the Obama administration’s “rock-solid commitment” to the safety of the United States’ allies in the region.
Brookings Institution senior fellow Katy Oh said the U.S.’s self-proclaimed policy of “strategic patience” – proving its power when necessary – has given the country a sense of responsibility in the region.
“I think the U.S. has a bit of a burden now to prove to them [allies], ‘we are watching this carefully and we will work together with you and deal with these issues seriously,’ ” Oh said. “That kind of strategic communication is very important for the U.S. right now.”
Authorities from China, South Korea and Japan have each noted they believe Tuesday night’s seismic tremors to be “manmade.” North Korea last tested a nuclear weapon in 2013 and has had nuclear weapon capabilities since 2006.