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Monday, September 11, 2006

Russian Diplomats Reportedly Confirm North Korean Underground Nuclear Test Plans

Russian diplomats believe that North Korea is very likely planning an underground nuclear test, the Associated Press reported yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 6).

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told Chinese and Russian officials about his plans during recent meetings in Pyongyang, diplomats told the London Sunday Telegraph.

Beijing and Moscow have, however, warned Kim against a nuclear weapons test, according to the Telegraph (Associated Press I/Khaleej Times, Sept. 10).

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the Bush administration’s point man on North Korea, today again warned Pyongyang not to conduct a nuclear test, AP reported.

“Obviously this would be a very provocative act,” he said in Shanghai. “The international community will not in any way support these provocative actions” (Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press/Easy Bourse, Sept. 11).

Hill also warned that North Korea’s nuclear efforts were destabilizing East Asia, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Sometimes a small country makes a terrible mistake, sometimes a small country can cause big problems in the region,” he said after arriving in Seoul as part of a trip through the region.

“They are causing other countries to reassess their security posture,” Hill said. “They are really causing a lot of difficulties and really disturbing the harmony of the whole region.”

Hill said he would meet with North Korean officials bilaterally if they resumed six-nation talks.

“They have apparently expressed the desire to meet bilaterally. They know whenever they want to come back to the talks I will meet them bilaterally as many times as they would like. The problem is that they have not made their decision,” he said (Agence France-Presse I, Sept. 11).

Hill added that Pyongyang can expect no further incentives to return to talks, AFP reported.

“There is no reason why the other five (nations) should be sitting around looking for inducements to get the North Koreans to accept what is on the table, which is clearly in their interest to accept,” he said.

“We’re asking the North Koreans to come to the table and implement what they already agreed to do,” he said (Benjamin Morgan, Agence France-Presse II/Yahoo!News, Sept. 11).

A spokeswoman for South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said that Roh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday called for a resumption of negotiations, Reuters reported.

“It is imperative to resume the six-party talks as soon as possible,” said the spokeswoman. “President Roh and Premier Wen shared an understanding that to fundamentally resolve the North Korean nuclear and missile issues, it is necessary to remain patient and to respond flexibly” (Reuters/Washington Post, Sept. 10).
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