UN discusses North Korea's planned nuke test

Updated: 2006-10-05 14:11
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BEIJING -- The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday discussed the planned nuclear test announced by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), while the international community continued to show great concerns over the announcement. (Full Coverage on North Korea's Nuclear Crisis)  

The council had held closed consultations on the DPRK's announcement, Ambassador Kenzo Oshima of Japan, the council's president for October, told reporters after the meeting.

He said the 15-member body would meet at the expert level later on Wednesday to discuss a draft statement prepared by Japan.

The draft statement urged the DPRK "not to undertake such a test and to refrain from any action that might aggravate tension, and to continue to work towards the resolution of non-proliferation concerns through political and diplomatic efforts," he said.

The statement, a copy of which was obtained by Xinhua, also urged the DPRK to return immediately to the six-party talks without preconditions.

It also warned that if the DPRK ignored the calls of the international community, the council would "act consistent with its primary responsibility" under the UN Charter.

After the closed consultations, China's UN ambassador Wang Guangya told reporters that all council members were concerned about the DPRK announcement.

"Everybody is unanimous," he said, stressing that all council members supported the idea that the "the six-party talks (should) be the main channel to address the issue."

Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador John Bolton told reporters that "at this stage, there's division."

"We cannot simply respond with a piece of paper," Bolton said. "I fear that if we do not have a strong response now to this clear signal from the North Koreans (DPRK) ... that they will misread the council."

But his Russian counterpart Vitaly Churkin told reporters that he was "very much surprised" to hear Bolton's comments on the division in the council.

"I think it is sending a very wrong impression if we start speaking about division even before we have the chance to look at the text (of the draft statement)," said Churkin.

According to a UN diplomat, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, a furious quarrel had broken out at the closed meeting between Churkin and Bolton.

In a statement issued on Tuesday by the DPRK's Foreign Ministry, it said that "[for] scientific research ... the DPRK will in the future conduct a nuclear test under conditions where safety is firmly guaranteed," the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

However the statement did not give a specific date or location for the upcoming test.

US Seeks Diplomatic Unity on DPRK's Announcement

Meanwhile in Washington, the U.S. government made a flurry of diplomatic efforts to combat the possible test.

"We've been continuing to engage with our six-party partners, as well as others in Asia and Security Council members," said deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey on Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill also on Wednesday said his government would not accept "a nuclear" DPRK.

"If they think that by exploding a weapon, we will come to terms with it, we won't," said Hill, chief U.S. negotiator in the six-party talks on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

He declined to discuss Washington's policy options, but said that top U.S. diplomats were working hard with their partners in Asia to convince the DPRK "that this would be a bad mistake."

International Comminity Continues To Express Concerns

In Frankfurt, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany had joined other European countries to call on the DPRK to give up the test, reported local newspaper Die Welt.

In Islamabad, Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam expressed Pakistan's "deep concern," adding that Pakistan supported the six-party talks, reported the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

Meanwhile in the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said in a statement that the DPRK's move "will have a negative impact on the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the Asia-Pacific region."

He stressed the need for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the DPRK nuclear issue, calling on the DPRK to immediately cease their plans for the test and to resume the process of diplomatic negotiations.