Alexa

U.N. Security Council urges North Korea to cancel planned nuclear test

U.N. Security Council urges North Korea to cancel planned nuclear test

The U.N. Security Council warned North Korea of unspecified consequences if it carries out a nuclear test and urged the secretive, communist nation to abandon all nuclear weapons as it promised last year and cancel plans to detonate a device.
A statement adopted unanimously Friday by the council expresses "deep concern" over North Korea's announcement that it planned a test _ which would confirm strong suspicions it is a nuclear power _ and urges Pyongyang to return to six-party talks on scrapping its nuclear weapons program.
The warning was read at a formal meeting by the council president, Ambassador Kenzo Oshima of Japan, who indicated that the North could face sanctions or possible military action if it detonates a nuclear device. Japan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement later saying if North Korea defies international concerns about a test, "the Security Council must adopt a resolution outlining severely punitive measures."
The council acted amid speculation that a nuclear test could come on Sunday, the anniversary of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's appointment as head of the Korean Workers' Party in 1997. Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi, currently in Washington, told the Japan's TV Asahi: "Based on the development so far, it would be best to view that a test is possible this weekend."
With tensions rising, Kim met hundreds of top North Korean top military commanders and urged them to bolster the nation's defenses, as officers cheered, "Fight at the cost of our lives!" the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported earlier Friday.
A North Korea expert in China, the North's closest ally, said only the removal of American economic sanctions against Pyongyang could dissuade the country from carrying out a nuclear test.
"North Korea has already made a decision to carry out a test," said Li Dunqiu, of China's State Council Development Research Center, a Cabinet-level think tank. But "if the U.S. removes sanctions ... then tensions can be eased. Otherwise launching a nuclear test is unavoidable for North Korea."
The United States imposed economic sanctions on North Korea last year to punish it for alleged counterfeiting and money laundering. For the last 13 months, North Korea has boycotted six-nation talks aimed at persuading it to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
North Korea said Tuesday it decided to act in the face of what it claimed was "the U.S. extreme threat of a nuclear war," but gave no date for the test. Washington has repeatedly said it has no intention of invading North Korea.
Both China and Russia have urged the United States and North Korea to hold talks, which Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Friday "could be useful in resolving the situation." But he said U.S. Ambassador John Bolton informed the council that there would be no North Korean-U.S. talks except in the margins of resumed six-party talks.
Bolton said the Security Council needs to adopt a long-term strategy to deal with North Korea but the top U.S. priority now is to stop a nuclear test.
"We take the threat by North Korea seriously. We don't think this is an attention-getting device of people waving their arm to say `see me, see me.' We think this would be consistent with the unfortunate logic that North Korea has been following," he said.
"North Korea should understand how strongly the United States and many other council members feel that they should not test this nuclear device," Bolton said. "And that if they do test it, it would be a very different world the day after the test ... because there would be another nuclear power."
Russia's Churkin said threatening or conducting a nuclear test "would not help anybody including North Korea."
"This message is very clearly conveyed in the useful presidential statement which we today adopted," he said. "Let's hope that things will cool off and that everybody will return to six-party talks."
Japan, which would be in close proximity to any North Korean nuclear test, proposed the initial text of the Security Council presidential statement, which becomes part of the council record. Oshima, the ambassador, had pressed to have it adopted before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe travels to China on Sunday and South Korea on Monday with a message that the North should stop testing.
"It's good that the council has come up with a very clear, strongly worded message warning against a nuclear test" before the "very important" Japan-China summit meeting, Oshima said.
The Security Council statement says a nuclear test would not help Pyongyang address its concerns, especially strengthening its security.
It warns that a nuclear test would bring "universal condemnation," lead to further unspecified council action, and "jeopardize peace, stability and security in the region and beyond."
The council said it "deplores" the pursuit of nuclear weapons by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, known as the DPRK.
"The Security Council will be monitoring the situation closely," the statement said. "The Security Council stresses that a nuclear test, if carried out by the DPRK, would represent a clear threat to international peace and security and that should the DPRK ignore calls of the international community, the Security Council will act consistent with its responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations."
Oshima indicated that the North could face sanctions or possible military action under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter if it detonates a nuclear device. Chapter 7 outlines actions the council can take to deal with threats to international peace. He stressed that the statement says a nuclear test would constitute such a threat, which "is clear enough."
"I think the terms in which this statement was prepared clearly indicate what will be the consequences of their action if they, in fact, resort to a nuclear test," Oshima said.
The statement also urges North Korea to return immediately to the six-party talks and work toward implementation of a September 2005 agreement in which the North pledged to give up its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees. The six parties to the talks are the two Koreas, China, Japan, the United States and Russia.
The dispatch by North Korea's news agency did not mention a nuclear test.
North Korean state television showed still photos of Kim, with his distinctive bouffant-hair, waving to an assembled crowd of about 500 olive-suited officers in dress caps. Kim later posed for a group photo with his commanders in front of Pyongyang's sprawling mausoleum for his father and national founder, Kim Il Sung.
The meeting was the reclusive leader's first reported appearance in three weeks and the first since Tuesday, when his government shocked the world by announcing plans to test a nuclear device on its way to building an atomic arsenal.
It was unclear when the rally took place, or how many attended, but it could show that Kim is trying to polish his credentials with the military at a time when international pressure is mounting on Pyongyang.
___
Associated Press writers Hans Greimel and Bo-Mi Lim in Seoul, South Korea, Kana Inagaki and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, and Foster Klug in Washington contributed to this report.