October 7, 2006 in Nation/World

U.N. council opposes nuclear test

Maggie Farley Los Angeles Times
 

Exercise timing

» In the past, North Korea has timed its military exercises to coincide with significant dates: It launched missiles July 4, despite international warnings.

» Monday is North Korea Workers’ Party Day and Columbus Day in the United States.

UNITED NATIONS – The Security Council unanimously urged North Korea on Friday to scrap plans for a nuclear test and return to six-party talks or face unspecified consequences.

Japan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday the tests could come as early as this weekend. U.S. spy satellites have detected sustained activity at a suspected underground test site in the north. Abe will travel to Beijing on Sunday and Seoul, South Korea, on Monday to press for support in corralling North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

North Korea’s foreign ministry had announced Oct. 3 that it was preparing for a nuclear test to ensure its security in the face of what North Korean officials described as threats from the United States.

The United States levied financial sanctions against North Korea last year and has encouraged banks around the world to cut off business dealings because of Pyongyang’s alleged money-laundering and counterfeiting. The North Koreans want the United States to lift the sanctions and engage in direct talks, and the threat to test a nuclear device is seen by diplomats and experts as a way to heighten pressure.

The Security Council statement said a test would not bring Pyongyang closer to its goals. Rather, it would “bring universal condemnation by the international community,” the statement said. “The Security Council urges the DPRK not to undertake such a test and to refrain from any action that might aggravate tension,” the statement added, using the acronym for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton said the council takes the threat seriously, and the United States is prepared to push for international economic sanctions. “If they do test it, it will be a very different world the day after,” he said before the meeting. “There would be another nuclear power. This would be proof positive of North Korea having a weapon.”

China and Russia had objected to earlier drafts of the statement that threatened an arms embargo or economic penalties or military force for failing to comply. But Russian diplomats said they were “very concerned” about the possibility of a test.

“We very clearly and strongly believe that to threaten conducting nuclear tests, or even worse, to conduct such tests … would not help anybody, including North Korea,” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said. “This message is very clearly conveyed in the useful presidential statement which we today adopted.

“Let’s hope that things will cool off and that everybody will return to six-party talks,” he said, referring to on-and-off talks that have involved China, Russia, the United States, South Korea and Japan, along with North Korea.


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