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Bush Condemns North Korean Nuclear Test Claim

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2006 – North Korea’s claim that it conducted its first-ever nuclear test today constitutes a threat to international peace and security, President Bush said this morning at the White House.

“The United States condemns this provocative act,” he said. Bush said the U.S. is still working to confirm the North Korean claim.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported the apparent nuclear test was conducted in Hwaderi, North Korea. The U.S. Geological Survey said it had detected a tremor of 4.2 magnitude on the Korean Peninsula.

“North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond,” the president said.

Bush said he talked to leaders of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia this morning. “We reaffirmed our commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and all of us agreed the proclaimed actions taken by North Korea are unacceptable and deserve immediate response by the United Nations Security Council,” he said.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency session in New York City this morning to discuss possible actions against North Korea. The Security Council has said such an act could lead to severe consequences, like economic sanctions.

The North Korean regime is one of the world’s leading proliferators of missile technology, including transfers to Iran and Syria, Bush said. “The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to state or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action,” he said.

The U.S. remains committed to diplomacy, the president said, but will meet the full range of its deterrent and security commitments.

He said North Korean threats would not lead to a brighter future for North Korean people nor weaken the resolve of the United States and its allies.

Today’s claim by North Korean serves only to raise tension, while depriving the North Korean people of the increased prosperity and better relations the world has offered. “The oppressed and impoverished people of North Korea deserve their brighter future,” he said.

In New York today, a reporter asked Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about North Korea’s claim of testing a nuclear device. “This is going to be a very dangerous time for all countries,” he said. “Every country, like every person, needs as many friends as it can get. We need to stay together, stay focused, let our diplomats do their work and back it up with strength.”

North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is an isolated, repressive regime of 23 million people that has experienced wide-scale starvation under its current leader, Kim Jong-il.

The communist country also drew international ire when it test-fired seven ballistic missiles July 4.

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