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On alert: South Korean soldiers patrol past flags and ribbons, calling for the reunification of the two Koreas, attached to the barbed-wire fence that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, north of Seoul on Wednesday. North Korea’s neighbors bolstered their military preparations and mobilized scientists on Wednesday to determine whether Pyongyang’s third nuclear test was as successful as the North claimed. (AP/Lee Jin-man)
The Indonesian government expressed its concern over North Korea’s third nuclear test, which was conducted in defiance of existing UN resolutions, and called all parties concerned to exercise restraint and to engage in dialogue.
“The government of Indonesia is deeply concerned that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has chosen to proceed with the underground nuclear test despite the appeals of many, and its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions 1718 , 1874  and 2087 ,” Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday, drawing condemnation from around the world, including from its major ally, China, which summoned the North Korean ambassador to protest.
The nuclear device, which was detonated at a remote underground site in the country’s northeast, is seen as a crucial step toward North Korea’s goal of building a nuclear bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the United States.
North Korea said it tested a “smaller and lighter A-bomb, unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power”. Still, just what happened in the test remained unclear to outsiders.
Marty noted that Pyongyang’s move had increased the risk of a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and threatened stability in the region. This move was deplorable and could not be condoned, he added.
He stressed the need for all parties to refrain from activities that would adversely affect peace and stability in the region.
Indonesia also stressed the need for diplomacy and dialogue, arguing that they should be placed at the forefront of efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.
“Indonesia calls, therefore, for the resumption of the Six Party Talks and the use of other dialogue/consultation mechanisms, including the ASEAN Regional Forum [ARF],” Marty said.
In response to the nuclear test, neighboring countries in the region began to bolster their military preparedness and mobilize scientists to determine whether Pyongyang’s third nuclear test was as successful as the North claimed.
The detonation was also the focus of global diplomatic maneuvers, with US Secretary of State John Kerry reaching out to his counterparts in Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo. President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address on Tuesday to reassure US allies in the region, warning of “firm action”.
“Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” Obama said as quoted by the Associated Press.
Intelligence officials and analysts in Seoul raised the possibility of another nuclear test and of ballistic missile test-launches. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the latest test was merely its “first response” to what it called US threats, and that Pyongyang would continue with unspecified “second and third measures of greater intensity” if Washington maintained its hostility.
The Associated Press also reported that South Korea had raised its military readiness to alert level, and on Wednesday it used aircraft and ships, as well as specialists on the ground, to collect air samples to analyze the levels of radiation from the test, according to the Defense Ministry. Japanese fighter jets were dispatched immediately after the test to collect atmospheric samples. Japan has also established monitoring posts, including one on its northwest coast, to collect similar data.
Underground nuclear tests often release radioactive elements into the atmosphere that can be analyzed to determine key details about the blast. One of the main points that intelligence officials want to know is whether the device was a plutonium bomb or one that used highly enriched uranium, which would be a first for North Korea.
Generally, it would take about two days for such radioactive by-products from the North’s test site to reach South Korea, Defense Ministry spokesman, Kim Min-seok, said on Wednesday.
South Korea also said it had prepared cruise missiles with “world-class accuracy and destructive power” that were capable of hitting any target in North Korea at anytime, and was speeding up its preparation of ballistic missiles.