Japanese and US officials warned Friday of tougher measures against North
Korea if the nation conducts a second nuclear test.
A tank unit of the Republic of Korea Army conduct the first
drill of the new year to prepare for a possible North Korean surprise
attack near the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas in Yeoncheon,
north of Seoul, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007. South Korea said Friday there are
no particular signs that North Korea plans to conduct a second nuclear
test, dismissing a media report on a possible nuclear test.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a second nuclear test "no
doubt would deepen its isolation."
Rice and South Korea's foreign minister, Song Min-Soon, agreed at a news
conference in Washington that they want negotiations on North Korea's nuclear
"If North Korea is prepared to return in a more constructive spirit" the
talks could be reopened fairly soon, Rice said. But she added, "We know of no
substantive response from the North Koreans."
The remarks came amid US media reports that Pyongyang has appeared to have
readied for another nuclear test and that the preparation steps were similar to
those taken before its first nuclear detonation on October 9. But Japanese and
South Korean officials have not reported any signs that Pyongyang was preparing
for another test.
The talks, held last month in Beijing, would swap economic incentives and a
US assurance of respect for North Korea's security for cessation of the nuclear
Tokyo urged its neighbor to refrain from any developments that would stoke
regional tensions. "We think it is essential that North Korea should stop
further nuclear testing and they should abandon all their nuclear programs,"
said Nori Shikata, assistant press secretary for Japan's Foreign Ministry. "If
they conduct another nuclear test, then the international community, including
Japan, will take additional measures."
Rice said "there is intensive discussion among the parties about the
resumption of the six-party talks." US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack
said negotiators were looking for "clear commitments, clear indications, clear
actions" that North Korea had made the "strategic choice" to abandon its nuclear
"Obviously, conducting a second nuclear test sends the opposite signal and
very clearly indicates that they have chosen to go down the pathway of deeper
isolation for North Korea and the North Korean people," McCormack said.
A South Korean military intelligence official said vehicle and personnel
activities are constantly spotted at a suspected test site in North Korea but
that it was too early to say whether they indicated an imminent nuclear test,
the Yonhap news agency reported, without identifying the official.
North Korean nuclear envoy Kim Kye Gwan said in December that his country
would bolster its atomic arsenal and further improve its deterrent in response
to international pressure.
The North has hailed its test as "an auspicious event in the national
history," and says it serves as a key deterrent against a possible US attack.
Washington has repeatedly denied that it plans to invade.