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NUKEWARS
North Korea says plans nuclear test aimed at US
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Jan 24, 2013


China cites N. Korea nuke test speculation, urges calm
Beijing (AFP) Jan 23, 2013 - China called for restraint Wednesday after the United Nations tightened sanctions on North Korea as punishment for a rocket launch, citing speculation of another nuclear test by its wayward ally.

"The DPRK's (North Korea's) satellite launch as well as speculation of a nuclear test highlight the urgency and importance of settling relevant issues on the Korean peninsula," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

"We hope all parties will bear in mind peace and stability of the Korean peninsula, exercise calmness and restraint and avoid actions that might escalate tension."

China backed a Security Council resolution passed Tuesday in response to last month's long-range rocket launch. The UN expanded the list of North Korean entities on its sanctions list but stopped short of imposing new penalties.

The North reacted defiantly, vowing to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities and fuelling speculation about a possible third nuclear test.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean intelligence source, reported that Pyongyang has finished technical preparations and could conduct a test within days of a decision by the country's leader Kim Jong-Un.

China is the North's sole major ally and its leading energy supplier and trade partner. It is seen as one of the few nations able to influence Pyongyang's behaviour.

Communist Party chief Xi Jinping called for dialogue and consultations to achieve the Korean peninsula's denuclearisation and long-term stability.

Speaking with a visiting envoy of South Korean president-elect Park Geun-Hye, Xi said China expects an early resumption of long-suspended six-nation talks on the peninsula's denuclearisation, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Xi, set to become China's president in March, also said stability on the peninsula is in the fundamental interests of both China and South Korea.

State media in China also called for talks to resolve tensions, even after the North rejected dialogue on its atomic programme following the UN move.

"The ultimate way to restore lasting peace and stability on the Korean peninsula is to build trust among key parties through dialogue and consultation," Xinhua said in a commentary.

The agency described the UN move as "a clear response to Pyongyang's violation of Security Council resolutions, which the DPRK as a UN member should abide by".

"It is worth noting that the long-stalled six-party talks remain the most viable platform for dialogue," Xinhua said.

The talks are chaired by China and also involve the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia.

The aim has been to entice Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and security guarantees, but the process has been moribund since the North abandoned the forum in 2009.

Beijing has long touted the talks as the best way to reduce tensions.

North Korea said Thursday it planned to carry out a third nuclear test and more rocket launches aimed at its "arch-enemy" the United States in response to tightened UN sanctions, but offered no timeframe.

"We do not hide that the various satellites and long-range rockets we will continue to launch, as well as the high-level nuclear test we will proceed with, are aimed at our arch-enemy the United States," the National Defence Commission said.

"Settling accounts with the US needs to be done with force, not with words," it added.

The mention of the test came towards the end of a commission statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

It did not specify when the test might be carried out, saying only that it would be part of an "upcoming all-out action" that would mark a "new phase" of the country's anti-US struggle.

It also did not elaborate on the meaning of "high-level". Some experts have predicted that the North's next atomic test might be of a uranium bomb, rather than the plutonium devices it detonated in 2006 and 2009.

Such a development would indicate that North Korea had mastered the sophisticated technology needed to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU).

"The statement reads like typical North Korean brinkmanship, and we can't definitely say a test is imminent," said Kim Yong-Hyun, professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University.

"But it's highly possible that it will use HEU for the test when it happens," Kim said.

Much of the statement was devoted to condemning Tuesday's announcement by the UN Security Council of expanded sanctions against Pyongyang in response to its long-range rocket launch last month.

"We absolutely refute all the illegal and outlawed resolutions adopted by the Security Council," the commission said.

Tuesday's resolution, proposed by the United States, was adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council, including the North's sole major ally China.

As well as adding a number of North Korea entities and individuals to an existing UN sanctions list, the resolution threatened "significant action" if the North stages a nuclear test.

North Korea's foreign ministry reacted defiantly on Wednesday, when it also gave the first hint that Pyongyang would react with a nuclear test by vowing "physical actions" to boost its nuclear deterrent.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean intelligence source, reported that Pyongyang had finished technical preparations and could conduct a test within days of a decision by leader Kim Jong-Un.

Last month, a US think-tank reached a similar conclusion based on satellite photos, suggesting the North had repaired rain damage at its nuclear test site and could conduct a detonation at two weeks' notice.

China, which had sought to shield North Korea from harsher sanctions sought by the United States and its allies, appealed on Wednesday for restraint and diplomatic efforts to avoid a dangerous escalation of tensions.

"The DPRK's (North Korea's) satellite launch as well as speculation of a nuclear test highlight the urgency and importance of settling relevant issues on the Korean peninsula," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

The defence commission's statement coincided with a visit to Seoul by the US special envoy on North Korea, Glyn Davies, who urged Pyongyang not to challenge the international community with a third test.

"Whether North Korea tests or not, it's up to North Korea," Davies told reporters after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, speaking shortly before the North's statement.

"We hope they don't do it, we call on them not to do it. It would be a mistake and a missed opportunity if they were to do it," he said.

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