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N Korea Claims To Have Conducted Nuclear Test

From those lovers of mayhem at Reuters:

A newsreader announces North Korea’s nuclear test October 9, 2006.

N. Korea conducts nuclear test, drawing world ire By Jack Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – Major world powers condemned North Korea after it said it successfully conducted a nuclear test on Monday, and called for U.N.-sponsored sanctions that could further impoverish the isolated communist state.

Pyongyang’s chief ally China denounced the test as "brazen," and urged it to avoid action that could worsen the situation, and Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the test.

President Bush called Pyongyang’s underground test a "provocative act" that threatened international peace and security and required an immediate response from the U.N. Security Council.

Monday’s announcement by Pyongyang sharply escalated world concerns over North Korea’s nuclear program and was a slap in the face for major regional and world powers engaged in six-party talks intended to prevent just such a test.

It delivered a sharp blow to Chinese President Hu Jintao’s doctrine of using economic incentives and diplomatic coaxing to avert North Korea’s drive to become a nuclear weapons state. Only seven states have acknowledged having nuclear weapons.

Britain and France said they would support sanctions. "The discussion will be on sanctions," France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere told reporters on his way into U.N. Security Council session. "The time has come to have a Chapter 7 resolution."

Chapter 7 makes a resolution mandatory for all U.N. members and allows for sanctions and even war. But the Security Council has to state specifically what kind of action members want.

The Security Council was already due to meet on Monday to officially nominate South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as next U.N. secretary-general.

North Korea’s announcement pushed the dollar to an eight-month high against the yen and helped shove oil above $60 a barrel. South Korea’s won fell to two-month lows, but the reaction by U.S. stocks was muted, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average off about 20 points in mid-morning trading.

Bush said North Korea had been a leading proliferator of missile technology, including transfers to Iran and Syria, and warned Pyongyang against such a transfer of nuclear weapons.

"The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for consequences of such action," he said.

Bush said he spoke by phone to leaders of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia — the other parties involved in long-stalled negotiations with North Korea — and all agreed that the test was unacceptable.

While stressing his commitment to diplomacy, Bush said he had told South Korea and Japan that "the United States will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments" in the Asia-Pacific region.

North Korea’s action presented Bush and fellow Republicans a further foreign policy challenge four weeks ahead of U.S. elections where control of the U.S. Congress is at stake.

South Korea put its troops on heightened alert after the announcement, which came just minutes before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe landed in Seoul for a visit.

Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said there was no leak or danger from its test.

"It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA (Korean People’s Army) and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability."

The U.S. Geological Survey said it had detected a 4.2 magnitude tremor in North Korea at 10:35 a.m. local time (0135 GMT). The Japan Meteorological Agency said its data showed a tremor took place around Gilju, on the peninsula’s northeast coast around 70 miles from the Chinese border.

ASSESSING EXPLOSION’S SIZE

There was no consensus on the size of the North Korean blast.

A U.S. official said it could take several days for intelligence analysts to determine whether the event was the result of an unsuccessful nuclear test, a small nuclear device or a non-nuclear explosion.

"In terms of yield, we have it registering at less than four on the Richter scale. That’s the kind of thing that could be the result of several hundred tons of TNT, rather than a nuclear test," the official added.

Gary Gibson of Australia’s Seismology Research Center put it at about one kiloton, the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT. Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov as saying it ranged between 5 and 15 kilotons.

The U.S. Air Force dropped a 12.5-kiloton bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945.

Analysts say North Korea probably has enough fissile material to make six to eight nuclear bombs but probably lacks the technology to devise one small enough to mount on a missile.

The chief of South Korea’s intelligence agency told lawmakers it was possible North Korea would carry out a second test, Seoul’s Yonhap news agency quoted one deputy as saying.

The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Pyongyang’s test threatened a global treaty to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"This reported nuclear test threatens the nuclear nonproliferation regime and creates serious security challenges not only for the East Asian region but also for the international community," the IAEA said in a statement.

Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo agree Pyongyang should end its 11-month boycott of six-nation talks on ending its nuclear arms program.

Analysts said renewed talks should eventually lead to one-on-one talks between the United States and North Korea.

David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, told CNN that despite the test, Pyongyang should be welcomed back to the talks but that U.S.-North Korea negotiations are "not impossible down the road."

Of course the Dem driven Foley page scandal has kept this minor story off the front page and out of the headlines.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, October 9th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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