Iraq Joins U.S., Russia in Working to Lower Iran-Saudi Tensions
Iraq's foreign minister offered Wednesday to act as a mediator between its neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Those relations became further strained in the past week with the Saudi execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric, angry protesters storming the Saudi embassy in Tehran and Saudi Arabia's subsequent decision to cut off diplomatic ties with Iran.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said during a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif that Iraq's placement in the region brings a role in alleviating the tensions.
Russia has also offered to act as a mediator, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been speaking with both Zarif and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that Kerry talked by phone with multiple Iranian and Saudi leaders to try to "restore some sense of calm," urge them to use dialogue and keep in mind there are other pressing issues in the region, including the situations in Syria and Yemen.
North Korea Claims 'Successful' Hydrogen Bomb Test
North Korea said Wednesday it conducted a "successful" hydrogen bomb test in a move that brought strong criticism from world powers.
The announcement on state television called the test a matter of self-defense to protect the country's sovereignty and made several critical references of the United States. It came less than a month after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed his country had developed a hydrogen bomb. The United States and others quickly discounted that claim.
A hydrogen bomb, also known as a thermonuclear bomb, is far more powerful than an atomic bomb.
North Korea conducted three previous nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. All of them took place at the Punggye-ri site, the same area where several monitoring agencies detected man-made earthquake activity on Wednesday morning.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the White House could not confirm the test, but that the U.S. has consistently made clear it will not accept a nuclear North Korea.
The U.S., Britain and France all condemned any violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The council has sanctioned North Korea and urged the government to abandon its nuclear program multiple times, and is due to hold an emergency meeting on the latest developments later Wednesday.
China, a North Korean ally and permanent Security Council member, said it "firmly opposes" the test and called on North Korea to stop actions that "worsen the situation on the Korean peninsula."
The test prompted emergency national security meetings in South Korea and Japan.