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North Korea preparing to test a nuclear weapon?

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4524477.stm Concern mounts over North Korea Asian and European foreign ministers have urged North Korea to rejoin
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2005
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4524477.stm

      Concern mounts over North Korea

      Asian and European foreign ministers have urged North
      Korea to rejoin talks on its nuclear programme amid
      fears it is about to test a nuclear bomb.

      The ministers expressed "deep concern" about
      Pyongyang's claim to have developed nuclear weapons.

      Their statement, from a summit in Japan, came a day
      after US intelligence reports that a test was being
      prepared.

      The UN's atomic watchdog has appealed to world leaders
      to do their utmost to prevent such a test from
      happening.

      'Denuclearisation'

      A joint statement issued at the 38-nation Asia-Europe
      Meeting (ASEM), called on Pyongyang to rejoin talks on
      its nuclear programme.

      "The ministers strongly urged the DPRK [North Korea]
      to return to the negotiating table of the six-party
      talks without any further delay and to make a
      strategic decision so as to achieve the
      denuclearisation of the peninsula in a peaceful manner
      through dialogue," it said.

      Pyongyang has shunned the multilateral discussion of
      its nuclear activities for almost a year.

      Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the UN's atomic
      watchdog, has warned a test would have "disastrous
      political and environmental consequences".

      Satellite images inconclusive

      Recent images taken by US spy satellites reportedly
      show activity at a suspected North Korean test site at
      Gilju, in the north-east of the country.

      The images show excavation and some construction
      which, a US defence official told the BBC, could be
      preparations for an underground nuclear test.

      But the official also warned that the US intelligence
      community had not concluded that a nuclear test was
      imminent.

      Instead, the official said, it could simply be a ruse
      by North Korea to strengthen its bargaining power with
      Washington.

      The BBC's Jonathan Head in Kyoto says China's Foreign
      Minister Li Zhaoxing is likely to come under pressure
      to show more willingness to try to bring North Korea
      back to the talks.

      But he says there is disagreement on how to persuade
      Pyongyang to return to the six-party negotiations,
      involving the two Koreas, Russia, China, the US and
      Japan.

      Japan, he says, supports the threat of UN Security
      Council sanctions whereas China and South Korea
      believe this approach to be too provocative.

      Complicating these differences, our correspondent
      adds, is the mistrust and rivalry which surfaced
      recently between Japan and China which is preventing
      Asia's most powerful countries from presenting a
      united front against North Korea.
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