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North Holds More Mass Rallies To Celebrate The Bomb As South Confirms Test

Photo courtesy AFP
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Oct 25, 2006
North Korea has held more mass rallies to celebrate its first nuclear test, the communist state's official media said Wednesday. Officials, soldiers, workers and students "welcomed a success in the historic nuclear test" at separate rallies in three provinces Tuesday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Crowds praised the October 9 blast as "an active countermeasure to repel the US nuclear threat" and an affirmation of national sovereignty, it said.

The rallies in South Pyeongan, Jagang and Kangwon provinces followed two mass public events in Pyongyang reported by the agency last week.

More than 100,000 torch-carrying people rallied at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang to mark the nuclear test Friday, three days after a similar torch-lit rally in the capital, state media reported.

Despite the eulogies for the nuclear test at home, it has invited international condemnation and United Nations sanctions.

The ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, in a commentary Wednesday, said US pressure forced the North to stage the test and reaffirmed support for global nuclear disarmament.

"The DPRK (North Korea) was compelled to build nuclear deterrent as a just measure for self-defence to avert a war and defend its ideology, system, freedom and democracy in face of the increasing nuclear threat of the US imperialists and their attempt at a preemptive nuclear attack," said the commentary, as quoted by KCNA.

South Korea Confirms North's Nuclear Test

South Korea's science ministry on Wednesday announced it had detected radiation in its own air samples, the country's first confirmation of North Korea's nuclear test earlier this month. "The government officially confirms that North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test on October 9," the ministry said in a statement.

It said it could detect "a radioactive material (Xenon) related to the nuclear test from its own atmosphere samples" collected in South Korea.

It also said it presumed the test took place at the North's northeastern town of Punggyeri in Kilju, North Hankyong Province.

South Korea had been trying to verify the North's declared nuclear test, since seismic readings confirming an earthquake-strength blast from the communist state's remote northeastern area.

US officials had already said initial findings showed unusual levels of radiation in air samples taken by a military drone on October 10, suggesting an atomic device.

"Though somewhat belated, the confirmation has significance in that the South Korean government has recognized North Korea's nuclear test for the first time," Kang Chang-Hun, a ministry spokesman, told AFP.

He refused to give more details than those in the brief ministry statement.

South Korean officials had been criticised for insufficient advance knowledge and slow verification of North Korea's nuclear test.

In a desperate effort to verify the atomic bomb blast, South Korea had reportedly deployed a special Swedish-imported radiation detector near the heavily-fortified border with North Korea earlier this month.

The equipment is capable of detecting even minute traces of Xenon, a radioisotope produced from a nuclear test, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoting unnamed government officials.

North Korea has since boasted its "success" in its first nuclear test with hundreds of thousands of people rallying in its capital and local provinces to celebrate it in the past week.

China, which sent a special envoy to Pyongyang last week for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, said Tuesday the communist neighbor has no plans to conduct a second nuclear test.

But the blast has already invited strong international condemnation.

The UN Security Council unanimously voted to slap Pyongyang with a range of financial, trade and military sanctions after the test, and urged the North to return to six-party talks.

North Korea agreed at the talks -- which also includes the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia -- in September 2005 to scrap its nuclear programmes in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.

But it boycotted the forum two months later in protest at US action to freeze its accounts totalling 24 million dollars in a Macau bank.

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso on Wednesday renewed his call for a discussion about whether the pacifist nation should acquire nuclear weapons after North Korea's nuclear test.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Russian Strategic Missile Test Fails
Moscow (AFP) Oct 25, 2006
The Russian defence ministry said that a test firing Wednesday of a Bulava strategic missile from a nuclear submarine had failed, Interfax reported. The intercontinental missile malfunctioned shortly after being successfully test fired from the submarine "Dmitry Donskoi" in the White Sea off northwest Russia, the news agency quoted the Russian navy headquarters as saying.

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