TOKYO – Japan's prime minister said Tuesday the world should impose tough new sanctions against North Korea if it goes ahead with plans for a nuclear test.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a television talk show that Japan and the international community will need to introduce "quite severe measures" against North Korea if it conducts the test.
He said North Korea would not gain anything from such a provocation.
Last week, North Korea announced plans for a nuclear test after the United Nations Security Council punished it for firing a long-range rocket in December. The Security Council, including North Korean ally China, said the rocket violated a ban on nuclear and missile activity and ordered the regime to refrain from a nuclear test. North Korea says it launched a satellite as part of a peaceful space program.
The U.S., South Korea and their allies have pressed North Korea to scrap the nuclear test plans, saying it will only worsen the country's decades-old international isolation.
North Korea is still taking "a very provocative attitude" under new leader Kim Jong Un, Abe said.
"First they launch a missile, then conduct a nuclear test, and they start talking to the international community to wrest something out of it. That's their pattern," he said. "We need to make North Korea realize that they have nothing to gain by confronting international society."
Japan already bans port calls by North Korean ships and trade with the North, and there is little room for additional steps. Abe's government is reportedly considering stepping up restrictions on money transfers from Japan to North Korea and revoking re-entry permits to ethnic Korean residents who travel to the North.