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NKorea neighbors caution it not to conduct a nuclear test

NKorea neighbors caution it not to conduct a nuclear test

North Korea's neighbors on Wednesday cautioned the communist nation against carrying out plans for its nuclear test, with South Korea warning it could lead to a shift in its policy of engagement with Pyongyang.
China, Japan and South Korea all announced separate one-on-one summits among their leaders next week, ratcheting up East Asian diplomacy to address the spike in tensions caused by the North's announcement Tuesday that it intends to conduct a nuclear test.
Such a test would confirm the North's claim to possess atomic bombs and severely undermine the efforts to deter any Asian nuclear arms race by getting Pyongyang to disarm.
Meanwhile, North Korea insisted Wednesday that its plan for a test wasn't meant to be a provocation, reiterating its oft-stated stance that it needs nuclear weapons to deter an attack by the United States.
An official at the North's embassy in Australia, Pak Myong-guk, who described himself as minister, said Wednesday that Pyongyang's planned nuclear test "is not provocative."
"It is just the corresponding measure for defense, for us to defend our selves," Pak told The Associated Press. "It is the really essential process for nuclear deterrent."
The North on Tuesday also pledged it wouldn't use nuclear weapons first in any conflict and would prevent any transfer of the technology.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun called Wednesday for a "cool-headed and stern" response to the North's announcement, while Foreign Ministry spokesman Choo Kyu-ho said a nuclear test by North Korea could cause a "shift" in its engagement policy toward the communist regime.
However, he later stressed that Seoul is not considering abandoning its reconciliation efforts with Pyongyang.
South Korea has already cut off regular humanitarian aid after the North test-fired a barrage of missiles in July over international objections, sparking U.N. Security Council condemnation.
South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said the Security Council is expected to take stronger action against Pyongyang if it tests a nuclear weapon.
North Korea "will face a strong and united response from the international community" if it conducts a test, Yu told a regular news briefing.
China _ North Korea's ally and key benefactor _ appealed Wednesday to North Korea for calm and restraint. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao appealed to all sides in six-nation disarmament talks to avoid "actions that intensify tensions."
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said "we simply could not accept" a nuclear test by the North.
The leaders of all three countries plan meetings in the coming days. Abe will head to China on Sunday and to Seoul on Monday, and Roh will travel to Beijing on Oct. 13.
The three countries _ along with Russia and the U.S. _ have been engaged in talks with the North over its nuclear program, but the negotiations have been stalled for almost a year. Pyongyang has boycotted them in protest over U.S. financial restrictions imposed for the regime's alleged illegal activity, including money laundering and counterfeiting.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer of Australia, said that he would seek a meeting with the North's ambassador, Chon Jae Hong, to discuss the implication of the North Korean announcement, which he called "deeply offensive."
Japan's Asahi newspaper reported Wednesday two Japanese spy satellites focusing on a suspected underground test site in the North had not observed any activities that could indicate preparations for a test as of Tuesday. The report cited unidentified government sources.
Pyongyang has not conducted any known test to prove its claim that it has nuclear weapons. Some experts believe the North has enough radioactive material to build half a dozen or more nuclear bombs, though there are doubts about whether it could deliver them accurately on a warhead.
A North Korean nuclear test could prompt Japan to seek its own nuclear deterrent, intensifying historical tensions with China and South Korea, both of which suffered under Japanese colonial rule in the early 20th century.
Although North Korea is dotted with underground military installations, media reports in South Korea have identified North Hamkyong province on the North's northeast coast as a likely site for a nuclear test.


Updated : 2021-06-16 07:32 GMT+08:00