Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NORTH KOREA 'WILL PAY' OVER TESTS

South Koreans in Seoul watch television footage of North Korea's rocket launch (26 May 2009)
The tests have been unanimously condemned by the UN Security Council

North Korea will "pay a price" for the nuclear and missile tests it has carried out in recent days, the US ambassador to the UN has said.

Susan Rice said international pressure on North Korea would increase, until it realised the tests had left it "further isolated and further debilitated".

Her comments come a day after the UN unanimously condemned North Korea for conducting an underground nuclear test.

North Korea responded by firing two more missiles hours later.

Ms Rice told CBS news channel in the US that Pyongyang's actions were "clearly provocative and destabilising actions which threaten international peace and security".

"North Korea needs to understand that its actions have consequences," she said.

"The pressure will increase on North Korea, economically and otherwise, and North Korea will realise that its actions have only left it further isolated and further debilitated."

Ms Rice said the international community would not "throw up our hands and let them pursue this path" and that North Korea would "pay a price for their action".

The strong words from the US come as UN diplomats begin work on a resolution to punish North Korea for its underground nuclear test on Monday, which were accompanied by at least three missile tests.

r test and missile launches in North Korea

Earlier, the Security Council unanimously condemned the tests.

Diplomats said they were seeking "tough measures", including further sanctions.

The Communist state responded by firing two short-range missiles off an east-coast base hours later, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an official.

The agency said the tests involved one ground-to-ship missile and one ground-to-air missile.

Earlier, North Korea, in a statement carried by its official news agency KCNA, said it was clear America's "hostile policy" towards it had not changed.

"Our army and people are fully ready for battle... against any reckless US attempt for a pre-emptive attack," it said in a piece criticising US moves to relocate its fighter jets.

Ms Rice said the Security Council response and any additional sanctions were "not the sum total of the response available" to the US and other countries.

"We'll be looking at what other steps we can take, along with partners in the region, to increase the pressure on North Korea and to make it plain that these actions will not be tolerated," she said.

On Tuesday, Asian and European foreign ministers attending the two-day biennial Asem Summit in Hanoi issued a statement condemning the test and calling for an immediate return to talks.

The issue was also expected to dominate talks between Chinese and South Korean defence ministers as they met in Beijing.

NUCLEAR CRISIS
Oct 2006 - North Korea conducts an underground nuclear test
Feb 2007 - North Korea agrees to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid
June 2007 - North Korea shuts its main Yongbyon reactor
June 2008 - North Korea makes its long-awaited declaration of nuclear assets
Oct 2008 - The US removes North Korea from its list of countries which sponsor terrorism
Dec 2008 - Pyongyang slows work to dismantle its nuclear programme after a US decision to suspend energy aid
Jan 2009 - The North says it is scrapping all military and political deals with the South, accusing it of "hostile intent"
April 2009 - Pyongyang launches a rocket carrying what it says is a communications satellite
25 May 2009 - North Korea conducts a second nuclear test

Seoul announced early on Tuesday that it would delay no longer in joining the PSI - a US-led non-proliferation campaign involving searching ships carrying suspect cargo, aimed at stopping the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.

North Korea has repeatedly warned that the South's participation in the PSI would be tantamount to a declaration of war.

Monday's blast, which seismologists said had the power of a 4.5 magnitude earthquake, appears to have been much more powerful than North Korea's first nuclear test.

Defence officials in Russia say it was an explosion of up to 20 kilotons, making it comparable to the American bombs that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The test came after North Korea walked away from long-running disarmament talks.

It agreed in February 2007 to abandon its nuclear ambitions in return for aid and diplomatic concessions.

But the negotiations stalled as it accused its negotiating partners - the US, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia - of failing to meet agreed obligations.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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