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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | February 5, 2013 3:05 AM PST

The U.S. and South Korea have agreed to make sure that the North Korea gets punished if it conducts another nuclear test.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan and the newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday agreed to stand together to punish the communist country if it carries out a nuclear test, according to a press release on the official website of South Korea.

"The two sides agreed that in case North Korea launches any additional provocations, including a nuclear test, the ROK and the US will firmly respond in cooperation with the international community. They also agreed to continue close cooperation on North Korea and its nuclear issues," Cho Tai-young, spokesman and deputy minister for Public Relations of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said in the press release.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, both met severe international criticism. Following a rocket launch in December last, North Korea announced that it would conduct a nuclear test in protest against the international toughened sanctions over its December launch.

As the previous two tests occurred after a three-year gap, the third nuke test is believed to be conducted earlier this year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has announced guidelines to bolster its army and protect national sovereignty.

South Korean experts believe Kim's guidelines could refer to a nuclear test and that he might be urging its country to be ready in case it meets counter-action from international allies like South Korea and U.S.

In an interview Monday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told Voice of America that the international community was making full preparations for another threatened North Korean nuclear test.

South Korea and the U.S. kicked off a joint military exercise off the Korean Peninsula's east coast that involve live-fire exercises, naval maneuvers and submarines detection drills, according to the Washington Post.

North Korean State media reported that the drills signal the U.S.-South Korea plot to attack North Korea.

"The dark cloud of war is approaching to the Korean Peninsula," the Washington Post quoted North Korea's official Uriminzokkiri website as saying.

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