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North Korea Performs Nuclear Test


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The United States and Australia
demanded immediate U.N. Security Council action against North Korea
for its reported nuclear test, while China condemned its ally for
blatantly defying the world.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the move "completely
irresponsible," and his government warned of serious consequences
for the isolated regime.
The U.N. Security Council planned to discuss the crisis Monday,
and the United States and Japan are likely to press for a
resolution imposing additional sanctions on Pyongyang.
North Korea said it tested its first atomic bomb in an
underground explosion Monday morning. The White House said U.S. and
South Korean intelligence detected a seismic event at a suspected
North Korean nuclear site and were trying to confirm Pyongyang's
claims.
"A North Korean nuclear test would constitute a provocative act
in defiance of the will of the international community," said
White House spokesman Tony Snow. "We expect the U.N. Security
Council to take immediate actions to respond to this unprovoked
act."
"The United States is closely monitoring the situation and
reaffirms its commitment to protect and defend our allies in the
region," he added.
China, a longtime North Korea supporter and host of stalled
international talks to persuade the fellow communist country to
give up its nuclear ambitions, strongly condemned the act.
"China expresses its resolute opposition," the Chinese Foreign
Ministry said. The North "defied the universal opposition of
international society and flagrantly conducted the nuclear test."
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said his government would
call on the U.N. Security Council to take "swift and effective
action" against North Korea, including financial, trade and travel
sanctions.
"But if the United Nations fails to act effectively against
this outrage from North Korea, it will represent a further
diminution of its authority," Howard said.
A Security Council resolution adopted in July after a series of
North Korean missile launches imposed limited sanctions on North
Korea and demanded that the reclusive communist nation suspend its
ballistic missile program - a demand the North immediately
rejected.
The resolution bans all U.N. member states from selling material
or technology for missiles or weapons of mass destruction to North
Korea. It also prohibits all nations from receiving missiles,
banned weapons or technology from the North, known as the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK.
Britain warned there would be repercussions for the reported
nuclear test.
"I condemn this completely irresponsible act by the government
of the DPRK," Blair said in a statement issued by his office.
"This further act of defiance shows North Korea's disregard for
the concerns of its neighbors and the wider international
community."
The European Union called for "a decisive international
response to this provocative act." French Foreign Minister
Philippe Douste-Blazy echoed the appeal.
"It is again up to the international community to react very
firmly," Douste-Blazy told The Associated Press at the United
Nations office in Geneva.
South Korea, which shares the world's most heavily armed border
with the North, said it put its military on high alert.
North Korea has created "a severe situation that threatens
stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia," South
Korean President Roh Moo-hyun told journalists after a summit with
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
He said the test would make it difficult for Seoul to maintain
its efforts to strengthen ties with its communist neighbor.
"This is a warning as well as my prediction," Roh said.
"Under this situation, it's difficult for South Korea to maintain
engagement policy."
Abe said the development and possession of nuclear weapons by
North Korea would transform the security environment in the region.
"We will be entering a new, dangerous nuclear age," said Abe,
who is facing his first major foreign policy test since his recent
election.
Earlier Abe called for a coordinated and levelheaded response.
"It is important for Japan and South Korea, along with the
United States and China, to work together and send a message to the
world," he said.
Indonesia also condemned the reported test as "unacceptable
under any justifiable reason."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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