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Archive for Tuesday, October 10, 2006

World rebukes nuclear test

U.N. Security Council considers sanctions

October 10, 2006

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A South Korean protester burns a banner bearing a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during an anti-North Korea rally Monday in Seoul. North Korea said Monday it performed its first nuclear weapons test. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said the test was successful, with no leak of radiation, and this was "a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation."

A South Korean protester burns a banner bearing a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during an anti-North Korea rally Monday in Seoul. North Korea said Monday it performed its first nuclear weapons test. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said the test was successful, with no leak of radiation, and this was "a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation."

— The world lined up against North Korea on Monday for staging a nuclear test denounced even by key allies. President Bush called it "a threat to international peace and security," and the U.N. Security Council weighed severe sanctions to punish the impoverished communist nation.

There was no talk of military action. But the Security Council quickly condemned North Korea's decision to flout a U.N. appeal to cancel the test after the reclusive regime announced it had set off an underground atomic explosion.

Russia was the only country to say it had "no doubts" over the North Korean claim. The U.S. and other experts said the explosion was smaller than expected and they had yet to confirm it was nuclear.

But the reaction of world governments reflected little doubt that they were treating the announcement as fact.

The 15-nation council urged Pyongyang to return to stalled talks, refrain from further tests and keep its pledge to scrap its clandestine weapons program.

Bush said the North Korean action "constitutes a threat to international peace and security" and requires "an immediate response" from the Security Council, though he stressed the U.S. remained committed to diplomacy.

Proposed sanctions

The United States circulated a draft U.N. resolution late Monday that would condemn North Korea's nuclear test and impose tough sanctions on the reclusive communist nation for Pyongyang's "flagrant disregard" of the Security Council's appeal not to detonate a device.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il claps as soldiers salute him during a military parade in 2002.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il claps as soldiers salute him during a military parade in 2002.

The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, incorporates proposals circulated by the U.S. earlier in the day to prohibit all trade in military and luxury goods and crack down on illegal financial dealings.

It adds new calls from Japan to ban all countries from allowing any North Korean ships in their ports or any North Korean aircraft from taking off or landing in their territory if they carried arms, nuclear or ballistic missile-related material or luxury goods.

In addition, the Japanese proposals would impose travel restrictions on high-ranking North Korean officials, create a Security Council committee to monitor implementation of the sanctions, and ask the secretary-general "to actively engage in this matter."

The U.S. draft also seeks to prevent any North Korean financial transactions resulting from illicit counterfeiting, money-laundering and narcotics, and "any abuses of the international financial system" that could contribute to the transfer or development of banned weapons.

But just how long it will take members to agree on a resolution remains to be seen.

President Bush speaks with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday. Bush called North Korea's nuclear test "a threat to international peace and security."

President Bush speaks with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday. Bush called North Korea's nuclear test "a threat to international peace and security."

Council experts started discussing the proposals in meetings Monday afternoon and were expected to meet again Tuesday morning.

But it was unclear whether China and Russia - the North's closest allies - would support some of the tough measures, which also include international inspection of all cargo to and from North Korea to limit the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and to ban any material that could be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction.

Before the experts meeting, the ambassadors from the five veto-wielding council nations - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China - met with Oshima.

Unanimous response

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters afterward that everybody agreed within 30 minutes that the council should condemn the action and respond quickly, saying "that's remarkable" to have such a unanimous decision.

But he wouldn't speculate when the council might act, noting that Japan and others already had other suggestions for the text.

"The fact is that in our half-hour, full council meeting this morning, there was no one who even came close to defending this test by North Korea," Bolton said.

The United States, France, Britain and Japan want the resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which deals with threats to international peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. It allows the council to authorize measures ranging from breaking diplomatic ties and imposing economic and military sanctions to taking military action to restore peace.

Students prepare to attend the rehearsal for a parade to mark the 61st anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea at a square in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency. The party was established on Oct. 10, 1945. Life went on as usual in the North Korean capital Monday, the day a nuclear test reportedly was conducted in the country.

Students prepare to attend the rehearsal for a parade to mark the 61st anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea at a square in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency. The party was established on Oct. 10, 1945. Life went on as usual in the North Korean capital Monday, the day a nuclear test reportedly was conducted in the country.

With U.S. forces strapped by the twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration repeatedly has said it has no plans to invade North Korea and discussion of military action was absent on Monday.

Neither Russia nor China would say whether they support a resolution that could pave the way for sanctions.

The reported test came one day after the ninth anniversary of reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's accession to power and a day before the 61st anniversary of the ruling North Korean Workers' Party.

AP Television News footage showed North Koreans going about their daily business and there were no signs of heightened alert by security forces in Pyongyang, hours after their government said it performed a nuclear weapons test.

People also laid flowers by a statue of Kim Il Sung, the current leader's father who died in 1994. Red flags of the party draped buildings and lampposts.

The test also coincided with the Security Council vote Monday to nominate South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to succeed Kofi Annan as the next U.N. secretary-general. The 192-nation General Assembly is expected to approve the recommendation later this month.

Ban said one of his priorities, if approved, would be to work to resolve the North Korean crisis.

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