Switzerland has condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test, citing its violation of UN Security Council resolutions, and called for the resumption of diplomatic negotiations with Kim Jong-un’s regime through the Six-Party Talks process.
North Korea’s latest test, carried out Tuesday, prompted angry reactions from the United States and Japan as well as calls for calm from China, North Korea’s main ally.
The bomb, which was detonated underground, is said to have been about twice as powerful as previous tests carried out by the reclusive regime in 2006 and 2009. It registered as a 4.9 to 5.1-magnitude earthquake.
The Swiss foreign ministry said in a statement that “Switzerland is convinced that a solution to the issue of nuclear weapons and security on the Korean peninsula can only be found within the framework of a negotiated and diplomatic process.”
“To this end, it reiterates its support of the process known as the Six-Party Talks. In addition, Switzerland remains ready to respond to any initiative capable of contributing to efforts to promote stability and peace on the Korean peninsula.”
The test has prompted an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, which will take place later on Tuesday.
Questions swirled over how China, a permanent council member, will react at the meeting, as well as over what options are still available to discipline an already heavily sanctioned North Korea.
China, which has shown signs of increasing exasperation with the recent bellicose tone of its neighbour, did however summon the North Korean ambassador in Beijing and protested sternly, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
"It is deplorable that Pyongyang defied the strong and unequivocal call from the international community to refrain from any further provocative measures,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Switzerland has maintained diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1974 and has carried out high-level diplomatic talks with Pyongyang every year since 2003. It also hosted talks among the two Koreas, China and the US in 1997-1999.
However, Switzerland has been unable to negotiate the resurrection of the Six-Party Talks process that fell apart when North Korea pulled out in 2009 following a failed satellite launch.
The Swiss provide close to SFr7 million ($7.6 million) in annual humanitarian aid to North Korea and maintain an office of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Pyongyang.
swissinfo.ch and agencies