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Neighbors get tough on DPRK

By  ZHANG YUNBI in Beijing, CHEN WEIHUA in Washington and ZHANG YUWEI in New York (China Daily)

08:11, February 16, 2013

Key Words: nuke test; DPRK; nuclear test

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Warning of the possibility of a new arms race in the region, analysts said negotiations are the way to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Their comments came as Seoul and Tokyo issued stern warnings on Friday and toughened their military stances.

Zhang Tuosheng, a researcher at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said Washington and its allies are seeking to handle the nuclear issue by toughening sanctions and resuming the Six-Party Talks.

"Diplomatic approaches on various levels are needed right now. The UN Security Council should play the most direct and effective role, envoys of the Six-Party Talks should have more contact and diplomatic interactions will be more dynamic in the upcoming days," Zhang said.

Charles Armstrong, a professor of history and director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University, said negotiations are still a better way than sanctions to solve the long-standing crisis, and it is not realistic to expect new sanctions would be any more effective than previous ones.

"The only realistic way forward, as difficult as it may be to imagine now, is to bring Pyongyang into negotiations with the US and other countries to resolve the nuclear issue," he said.

China in the past few days beefed up its diplomatic communications with world leaders, trying to prevent the crisis from spiraling out of control.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday called on the international community to act quickly and with unity in the wake of Pyongyang's third nuclear test on Tuesday.

Ban described the test as a "direct challenge to the international community", and he encouraged the UN Security Council to "act with unity" and to take appropriate measures as soon as possible.

Kerry said the test by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea "warrants a strong, a swift, and a credible response from the global community", and he vowed to ramp up coordination with Six-Party Talks partners China, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia.

The UN Security Council is still in the process of discussing punitive measures against the DPRK while the US and its allies are seeking another set of tough sanctions.

Meanwhile, the ROK military held an artillery exercise on Friday in an area close to the DPRK to deter Pyongyang, ROK Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters, Kyodo News Agency reported.

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