North Korea conducts nuclear test

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. File photo: AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. File photo: AP

P.S. Suryanarayana

China voices ``firm opposition to the test''; a crisis, says Japan

  • `100% indigenous'
  • Shock waves across East Asia

    SINGAPORE: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) declared that it "successfully conducted an underground nuclear [weapon] test under secure conditions" on Monday.

    North Korea's triumphal statement sparked an instant wave of international concern and opposition. The test produced political shock waves across East Asia, where China and South Korea were engaged, along with Japan, in preventing the DPRK from crossing the nuclear Rubicon.

    Its neighbours, notably South Korea and Japan, reckoned that the test was carried out at 10.36 a.m. local time (01.36 GMT). The seismic intensity was assessed at 3 to 4 on the Richter scale. Japan said it was assessing the "scientific" implications of the "small experiment."

    China led the international community in calling for consultations and dialogue. Its Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the DPRK "outrageously conducted a nuclear test in defiance of unanimous opposition from the international community."

    Voicing "firm opposition to the test," the statement emphasised Beijing's "unswerving and consistent position" of enabling the Korean peninsula to remain free of nuclear weapons. China "strongly" demanded that the DPRK abide by its commitment against nuclear proliferation and "halt all the activities that will possibly lead to the further deterioration of the situation." It also demanded that the DPRK "return" once again to "the track of the six-party talks." The parties are the DPRK, the United States, China, South Korea, Russia and Japan.

    Japanese spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi told The Hindu over telephone from Tokyo that his country would go at "full throttle," in association with the U.S. and China as also South Korea to "contain" the DPRK, which caused a "crisis" now. He said Tokyo was not suggesting non-diplomatic means.

    The DPRK's ethnic neighbour, South Korea, detected a seismic tremor, described as an "artificial earthquake," of the magnitude of 3.5 to 3.7 on the Richter scale. The area, where the tremor emanated from, was identified as a remote location in the DPRK's North Hamgyeong province. It was reckoned that such a reading was the basis of the DPRK's proclamation of its entry into the Nuclear Club.

    The short statement by Pyongyang said, "The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006."

    Emphasising that the "historic" event was made possible by the DPRK's own "wisdom and technology," the state news agency said, "it has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test." It was "carried out under a scientific consideration and careful calculation."

    South Korea said the DPRK's "behaviour this time is a serious threat that shakes the safety and peace of not only the Korean peninsula but also the northeast Asian region." According to diplomatic sources, Seoul was said to be fully prepared, in line with the U.S.-South Korean military alliance, to meet the DPRK's "provocations."

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