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By Margaret Talev, Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — North Korea’s claim to have tested its first hydrogen bomb is the latest foreign policy litmus test in the presidential race: Republican candidates are blaming President Barack Obama’s policies for the rogue regime’s boldness and seeking to tie the U.S. approach to Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who served as Obama’s secretary of state.

“If this test is confirmed, it will be just the latest example of the failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a statement. “Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obama’s weakness. We need new leadership that will stand up to people like Kim Jong-un and ensure our country has the capabilities necessary to keep America safe.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on Twitter that North Korea’s move shows the danger of continuing the “feckless Obama/Clinton foreign policy.”

Carly Fiorina called the development “yet another Hillary Clinton foreign policy failure” in a posting on Facebook and suggested North Korea was emboldened by the U.S. decision to put off sanctions on Iran for new violations in recent weeks of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The candidates did not elaborate on why they believe Clinton, who left the State Department in 2013, is responsible for Pyongyang’s latest provocation, or say in detail how they would respond to the regime.

Clinton condemned what she said was North Korea’s attempt to “blackmail the world into easing the pressure on its rogue regime.” She also urged China to be more assertive in using its influence on the regime and to cut illicit trade across its border with the country.

“We can’t give in to or in any way encourage this kind of bullying,” she said in a statement. “Instead, we should increase pressure and send Pyongyang an unmistakable message that its nuclear brinksmanship won’t succeed.”

(Sam Kim, Elizabeth Titus and Sangwon Yoon contributed to this report.)

©2016 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signs a document regarding the test of a hydrogen bomb, in this still image taken from KRT video and released by Yonhap on January 6, 2016.   REUTERS/Yonhap   

 

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