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Obama calls missile tests 'reckless' ahead of UN meeting

Video by Nicolas GERMAIN

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-05-25

US President Barack Obama said the international community must react to the 'reckless' nuclear tests North Korea staged early Monday, and the UN Security Council is meeting to discuss next steps.

US President Barack Obama said the international community must act after North Korea's "reckless" nuclear and missile tests on Monday.
"The United States and the international community must take action in response," he said ahead of a Memorial Day ceremony to honor war dead. "North Korea's nuclear ballistic-missile programs pose a gave threat to the peace and security of the world, and I strongly condemn their reckless actions."

North Korea on Monday confirmed reports that it had “successfully” performed a second nuclear test

in Kilju, in the north of the country, defying pressure from the international community to end its nuclear programme.

The South Korean press agency Yonhap was the first to announce the test, after an earthquake, presumed to be resulting form the test, was detected at 2:54 am (GMT+2), 375 kilometres northeast of Pyongyang, with a tremor felt at Kilju.

Kilju is believed to be the same site used for North Korea’s first atomic bomb test back in October 2006. The first test was not deemed a complete success.

Yonhap news agency also reported that the North had test-fired a short-range missile with a range of 130 kilometres on Monday from its launch site at Musudan-ri near Kilju, and two additional short-range missiles just a few hours later. The South Korean military later confirmed all three tests.

Pyongyang threatened to continue tests if North America continues with its “intimidation” policy, according to officials at Pyongyang’s embassy in Moscow.

Tensions with Pyongyang have been high since April 5, when it launched a rocket that it said was to put a communications satellite into orbit. But Western powers condemned the test, calling it a disguised long-range missile and tightened sanctions.

In response, Pyongyang withdrew from the six-party talks (with Russia, South Korea, China, Japan and the United States) on its nuclear programme, saying that all agreements made under this framework were null and void.

"Grave concern"

Pyongyang’s latest test prompted harsh international condemnation. Russia said it would convene an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council later on Monday, at Japan’s request, to discuss appropriate measures.

South Korea slammed the test as an "intolerable provocation" and ordered its 680,000-strong military on heightened alert.
US President Barack Obama called the tests a matter of “grave concern” while the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said “irresponsible acts by North Korea warrant a firm response by the international community”.

The French government “urged the strongest sanctions”.

Robert Parsons, FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor, says a new approach must be taken to resolve the situation.

“We have been there many many times in the past," said Parsons. "Everything has been tried since then - sanctions, threats, of course the Korean War more than 50 years ago, though it’s not going to come to that today because North Korea has a massive army of one million.

“So other approaches have to be tried, and so far they are just not working. It appears that North Korea is impervious to reasoning or threats and sanctions, and has the rest of the international community dancing a merry dance.”

Pyongynag’s virulent defence policy could, according to FRANCE 24’s Nathalie Tourret in Tokyo, also be seen as a move by ailing Kim Jong-iI to reinforce the security of his country as he prepares his succession.

Date created : 2009-05-25