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US Warns North Korea Against Reckless Nuclear Bomb Test

North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Olivier Knox
Washington (AFP) Oct 03, 2006
The United States on Tuesday warned North Korea against conducting a "reckless" and "very provocative" nuclear weapons test and worked to stiffen global resolve to forcefully confront Pyongyang. Top US diplomats sounded out their counterparts in key countries like China and Russia and pushed for UN Security Council action under a July resolution punishing North Korea after the Stalinist regime test-fired a wave of missiles.

In Cairo, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said a nuclear weapons test would be a "very provocative" act and predicted that "a number of countries would reassess" their approach towards Pyongyang.

While she did not name them, Washington has long pushed China and South Korea to take a harder line on North Korea, which declared in February 2005 it had nuclear weapons.

At the White House, national security spokesman Frederick Jones said "the United States will continue to work with its allies and partners to discourage such a reckless action and will respond appropriately."

"We stand firmly with our allies in the region and reaffirm our commitment to their security," said Jones, who suggested that a test would imperil a package of incentives offered to North Korea in September 2005.

The United States wants its partners in the talks, as well as the UN Security Council, "to exert every effort to persuade North Korea that the test of a nuclear weapon would only bring its further isolation and would not be in the interest of the North Korean people," said Jones.

A US State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, noted recent Japanese and Australian sanctions on Pyongyang and said that "a number of other countries that have been thinking about these kinds of things might be more energized to do that."

US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns discussed the way forward with Japanese, Korean and European officials and was to do the same with Russian and Chinese counterparts, said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

At the United Nations, US Ambassador John Bolton said the 15-member security council would hold a "brainstorming session" Tuesday "to see if we can come up with a coherent policy" after members consult with their respective capitals.

"I expect there will be a fair amount of support to take this very seriously .... It is a test of the Security Council," he said.

A senior US official, who requested anonymity, noted that the Council's July resolution also urged North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions and that this could be the foundation for "further steps."

Pyongyang announced earlier Tuesday that it would test nuclear weapons in response to US military threats and sanctions, jangling nerves worldwide just three months after North Korea test fired long-range missiles.

Since November 2005, the communist regime has stayed away from the six-way talks that bring together the United States, North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia to try to bring an end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, visiting Nicaragua, told reporters that he hoped that global outrage at the possible test might be enough to drag North Korea back to six-party talks.

"It may be that the reaction will be sufficient to get the North Koreans to go back and have the six-party talks," suggested Rumsfeld, who would not say whether US forces were put on alert or had detected signs of an impending test.

Rumsfeld stressed, however, that US President George W. Bush "believes the six party talks are the proper method for dealing with North Korea."

"We continue to work with our six-party partners to bring the North Koreans back to the talks, most recently offering a six-party ministerial meeting in Malaysia to allow the North Koreans a high-level venue in which to express their concerns," said Jones.

As part of an agreement reached in the six-party talks on September 19 last year, the United States had made security guarantees to North Korea in exchange for Pyongyang accepting to renounce its nuclear weapons program.

But Pyongyang then said the removal of US sanctions imposed for alleged money laundering and counterfeiting of US currency was the condition for the return to the negotiating table.

earlier related report
North Korean Nuclear Test An Unacceptable Threat Says US State Department
Cairo (AFP) Oct 03 - A nuclear weapons test by North Korea "would pose an unacceptable threat to peace and stability in Asia and the world," the US State Department spokesman said in Cairo Tuesday. "A North Korea test would severely undermine our confidence in the North Koreans' commitment to six-party talks and would pose an unacceptable threat to peace and stability in Asia and the world," said Sean McCormack.

Pyongyang announced earlier Tuesday that it would test nuclear weapons in response to US military threats and sanctions, jangling nerves worldwide just three months after North Korea test fired long-range missiles.

The communist regime has not joined the six-way talks that bring together the United States, North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia to try to bring an end to Pyonyangs's nuclear weapons programme, since November 2005.

"A provocative action of this nature would only further isolate the North Korean regime and deny the people of the north the benefits they so rightly deserve," McCormack said.

"The US will continue to work with its allies and partners to discourage such a reckless action and will respond appropriately," he added.

"The US and its six party partners seek the denuclearisation of North Korea through peaceful diplomatic means," he said.

The six-party talks were a result of North Korea withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003. The aim of these talks is to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns raised by the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

North Korea on Tuesday said the US' "extreme threat of a nuclear war and sanctions" compelled it to pursue the nuclear test.

"We continue to strive for implementation of the September 2005 joint statement from over one year ago which offers North Korea a clear path and benefits from the world should they choose to denuclearise," McCormack said.

Meanwhile, an official travelling with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to attend a security conference in Nicaragua said Washington was expecting the North Korean announcement and had been preparing a response.

"We have seen this thing coming, or hints of it, and so the government has had some opportunity to think about what to do," the senior official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

According to the official, the US administration was holding meetings in Washington to consider an official reaction.

As part of an agreement reached in the six-party talks on September 19 last year, the United States had made security guarantees to North Korea in exchange for Pyongyang accepting to renounce its nuclear weapons program.

But Pyonyang then said the US' removal of sanctions was the condition for the return to the negotiating table.

McCormack said the United States had tried on several occasions to bring Pyonyang back to the talks.

Last July, at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the US had proposed a six party ministerial meeting "to allow the North Koreans a high level venue in which to express their grievances," McCormack said.

No date was given for North Korea's test but the shock announcement drew immediate and strongly worded condemnation from Japan, which warned that the reclusive communist state may make good on its threat.

McCormack is accompanying Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on a tour of the Middle East aimed at reviving the peace process there.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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