G-8 leaders warn N. Korea, Iran on nukes

? The leaders of the world’s largest industrial democracies Monday targeted North Korea and Iran with a message — and an implicit warning — to dismantle programs that could be used to produce nuclear weapons or face measures that would end the programs for them.

On the second day of the Group of Eight summit in the French Alps, the message was blunt and its targets precise. The eight leaders, with their own disagreements over the war in Iraq still festering, found common ground in a statement that called global terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction “the pre-eminent threat to international security.”

“We strongly urge North Korea to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle any nuclear weapons programs,” the leaders said in a draft statement expected to be formally approved Tuesday. “We will not ignore the proliferation implications of Iran’s advanced nuclear program,” it added, urging the government in Tehran to comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and accept more intrusive U.N. inspections.

Released just before President Bush’s departure for Egypt to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, the statement said the leaders agreed to guard against development of the weapons by insisting on arms inspections, export controls “and, if necessary, other measures in accordance with international law,” language that is commonly used by diplomats to project a threat of force.

The United States has said it takes seriously claims by North Korea that it has nuclear bombs. The United States has been pressuring Russia to halt construction of a nuclear plant in Iran, contending it could lead to the production of nuclear weapons.