Monday, May 25, 2009

N Korea nuclear test 'threat to world peace'

North Korea has once again defied the international community by testing a nuclear weapon, its second such test within 3 years. The weapon was detonated some 10 km underground shortly after 23:00 GMT and triggered seismic readings of about 4.3 on the Richter scale.

The testing of the device, said to be equivalent to the 20 Kiloton bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, has provoked widespread criticism and condemnation. China, who reacted with anger to North Korea’s October 2006 test [Wikipedia / tvnewswatch], have said it was “resolutely opposed” to the weapon’s test. US President Barack Obama described the test as a “Threat to international peace”.

“North Korea will not find respect through threats and illegal weapons,” Obama said in a statement on Monday. His comments were echoed by other world leaders who condemned the North Korean leadership. Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the action would “undermine prospects for peace” on the Korean peninsula. Meanwhile the UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband called the test “Wrong, misguided and dangerous” and said it would leave N Korea even more isolated.

Closer to home, North Korea’s neighbours have been even more outspoken. Japan has called for “firm action” and asked that a UN Security Council meeting be convened as soon as practically possible. South Korea, which remains in a tense stand-off with its neighbour called the test an “intolerable provocation”. Meanwhile anger spilled onto the streets as news about the weapons test began to spread.

Stock markets were also rattled by the news, though sharp falls seen early in the morning in Seoul soon recovered.

It is not clear whether six party talks will resume given that North Korea continues to ignore world opinion. Despite warnings from the US and others the defiant regime launched a rocket in April. It was widely seen as a long-range missile test, despite Pyongyang’s insistence it was a launch of a satellite. Both China and Russia have called for a return to the negotiating table, but there will be increasing scepticism about North Korea’s intentions. Six party talks resumed shortly after the 2006 weapons test [tvnewswatch], but the situation has changed significantly since then with the country becoming ever more unstable and the health of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il raising further doubts
[BBC / CNN / Sky News / Wikipedia].

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