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North Korean Proliferation at Heart of Nuke Test Issue

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2006 – North Korea’s record as a proliferator of weapons underscores the need for nations to band together and for the United States to have a robust missile defense program, a Defense Department spokesman said here today.

North Korea reportedly conducted an underground nuclear explosion over the weekend, but U.S. officials have yet to confirm the nature of the event.

“They have sold many missiles and aspects of missiles to a number of countries,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today. “The U.S. government and the president have put forward what we call the Proliferation Security Initiative that enjoys the support of many nations around the world.”

The initiative is designed to choke off markets and supplies for proliferators. It’s not a treaty-based approach, according to State Department officials, but rather is a partnership in which countries cooperate to deter, disrupt and prevent proliferation.

The United States has a limited ballistic missile defense capability. “This has been a priority of this department,” Whitman said. The system could protect the American people from a rogue threat like the one posed by North Korea, he said.

The United Nations is meeting to consider the course ahead regarding North Korea. The Security Council will debate sanctions against the rogue regime.

“The sanctions that we're proposing in the Security Council are specifically designed to target North Korea's programs of weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, chemical, biological, its ballistic missile program and its other illicit activities, (such as) selling drugs through diplomatic channels, gambling, counterfeiting American money,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said on the CBS “Early Show” this morning. “We're going to try to cut off the flow of resources they need and also cut off their sales, for example, of ballistic missile technology.”

Bolton said the United States absolutely wants to solve the North Korean threat via diplomacy and international cooperation.

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