Washington: A fifth North Korean nuclear test could trigger new sanctions including an effort to choke off hard currency earnings by its laborers abroad, the top US diplomat for the Asia-Pacific region said on Tuesday.
"Like a regimen of medicine, the dosage can be upped when the effects fall short of what’s required," Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Danny Russel told Reuters.
Russel made clear he was speaking about possible fresh sanctions by the UN Security Council, by the United States on its own or by a group of like-minded states from the European Union and Southeast Asia, along with the United States.
The United States, South Korea and Japan also could take unspecified "defense-related measures" if the North were to conduct what would be its fifth nuclear test, Russel said.
North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch the following month, triggering expanded UN sanctions aimed at starving it of funds for its atomic weapons program.
Some experts expect North Korea to conduct a fifth nuclear test in the near future, possibly before its party congress in early May, following an embarrassing failure of an intermediate-range missile last week.