Monday, October 09, 2006

North Korea claims nuclear test

Oct 9 2006 BBC news report:
North Korea says it has carried out its first test of a nuclear weapon, the state news agency (KCNA) has reported.

It said the underground test, carried out in defiance of international warnings, was a success and had not resulted in any leak of radiation.

Pyongyang triggered an international outcry last week, when it announced plans to carry out the test.

On Sunday, China and Japan said in a joint statement that they would not tolerate such an action.

In response to the reported test, the South Korean armed forces have been put on a heightened state of alert, and President Roh Moo-hyun has called an emergency meeting of his government's National Security Council.

'Historic event'

There has been no official confirmation of the test, although South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that it took place in Gilju in Hamgyong province at 1036 (0136 GMT).

Sept 2005:At first hailed as a breakthrough, North Korea agrees to give up nuclear activities
Next day, N Korea says it will not scrap its activities unless it gets a civilian nuclear reactor
US imposes financial sanctions on N Korea businesses
July 2006: N Korea test-fires seven missiles
UN Security Council votes to impose sanctions over the tests
Oct 2006: N Korea threatens nuclear test

N Korea nuclear timeline

A South Korean official said an 3.5 magnitude seismic tremor had been detected in north Hamgyong province, in the north-east of North Korea.

When it announced the test, KCNA described it as an "historic event that brought happiness to our military and people".

"The nuclear test will contribute to maintaining peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and surrounding region," KCNA said.

The region has been on high alert since North Korea announced last week that it would conduct a nuclear test.

Japan said that if the test was confirmed, it would be a "grave threat", while China denounced the action as "brazen".

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has just arrived in Seoul for a meeting with Mr Roh, following talks on the crisis with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing.

Mr Abe said Japan wanted to co-ordinate its response with the South Koreans, and was also in contact with the US and China.

In Tokyo, ministers were called to an urgent meeting, and the government set up a special task force.

The US has yet to give an official response to the reported test, but US negotiator Christopher Hill said last week that North Korea must choose either to have a future or to have nuclear weapons, "but it cannot have them both".