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Asia-pacific

Pyongyang stages nuclear test, UN to hold emergency meeting

Video by Nicolas GERMAIN

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-05-25

Pyongyang has confirmed South Korean reports it staged a new nuclear test shortly before 1am on Monday. Seoul has called an emergency meeting of cabinet ministers over the test, amid calls for an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council.

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 2.54am (GMT+2), 375km northeast of Pyongyang, with a tremor felt at Kilju.

The North "successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way," the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology," the agency added.

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 130km on Monday from its launch site at Musudan-ri near Kilju, and two further 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 missile rocket saying it 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 US) 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.  Everything has been tried since then - sanctions, threats, of course the Korean War more than fifty 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

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