HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

N.Korea defiant amid fears of second nuclear test

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea denounced U.N. sanctions as a declaration of war on Tuesday, while across the border in Seoul an official said there were signs the reclusive Communist state may be preparing for a second nuclear test.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said he did not exclude the possibility that Pyongyang would detonate another nuclear device, a step Washington's top official on North Korea warned would be considered a "belligerent act."

Defiant in the face of sanctions backed by even its closest ally, China, Pyongyang said it had withstood international pressure before and so was hardly likely to yield now that it had become "a nuclear weapons state."

"The DPRK had remained unfazed in any storm and stress in the past when it had no nuclear weapons," official media quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying. "It is quite nonsensical to expect the DPRK to yield to the pressure and threat of someone at this time when it has become a nuclear weapons state.

"The DPRK wants peace but is not afraid of war," the spokesman said, referring to the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The U.S. government on Monday confirmed the October 9 underground blast was a nuclear explosion, as Pyongyang claimed.

The New York Times said the explosion was most likely not fueled by uranium, but rather by plutonium harvested from its small, mothballed nuclear reactor.

The report, quoting unnamed officials, suggests fears that Pyongyang had developed a uranium program based on equipment and know-how from Pakistan were unfounded.

U.S. news networks NBC and ABC said spy satellites had spotted what may be preparations for another nuclear test.

There was no official confirmation, but a South Korean official who asked not to be named said the government was making preparations "with the possibility of a second test in mind," and Russia's Ivanov said another detonation could not be ruled out.

"Russia's reaction in that case would be exactly the same as it was to the first nuclear explosion -- that is, negative," Ivanov told reporters.


U.N. Security Council resolution agreed last weekend imposed sanctions that are mostly aimed at choking off the country's weapons programs.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, speaking to reporters after crisis talks in
South Korea, warned Pyongyang it would head deeper into isolation it if conducted another test.

"We would all regard a second test as a belligerent answer on North Korea's part to the international community," he said. "The DPRK really has to understand that the international community is not going to accept the DPRK as a nuclear state.

"I think the DPRK is under some impression that once they make nuclear tests that somehow we will respect them more. The fact of the matter is nuclear tests make us respect them less."

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg also demanded that North Korea refrain from further nuclear tests and urged it commit itself to a moratorium on missile launches.

Japan's Kyodo news agency, quoting a government official, said Chinese President Hu Jintao had voiced concern about how the U.N. sanctions are applied.

"Things must be done in such a way that they don't bring about an escalation of the situation into something uncontrollable," Hu told a visiting group of Japanese lawmakers.

China's worries about the possible collapse of an impoverished and highly militarized state on its border has prompted concern it may not rigorously enforce the sanctions.

However, China's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Beijing, as a permanent member of the Security Council, always strictly enforced its resolutions.

U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said on Monday that China was already checking goods crossing into North Korea.

Liu declined to comment on Japanese media reports that China was halting some remittances to Pyongyang through its state bank.

Hill will be followed to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza, who is due to arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday on a visit that will also include Seoul, Beijing and Moscow.

Officials say Rice will seek a unified approach to Pyongyang and a restart of six-party talks, the now-dormant forum aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions.

(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz, Jonathan Thatcher, Kang Shinhye and Hong Ki-soo in Seoul, Chris Buckley in Beijing, Elaine Lies in Tokyo and David Brunnstrom in Luxembourg)
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org