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Old October 3rd, 2006, 07:51 PM  
Whisper
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Exclamation North Korea says it will conduct nuclear test

North Korea said Tuesday that it will conduct a nuclear test to bolster its self-defence capability amid what it calls increasing U.S. hostility toward the communist regime.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said that the U.S. would bring up North Korea's statement for discussion Tuesday morning in a regular meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

"A nuclear test by North Korea would be extraordinarily serious," Bolton said in an interview with the Associated Press.

"The threat is serious enough that we're certainly going to take this action in the council this morning, by raising it."

Using the acronym for the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's Foreign Ministry said in the official English translation of its statement that: "The DPRK will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed."

The statement gave no precise date of when a test might occur.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso called the purported nuclear test plan a threat to peace, and said a nuclear test would have graver implications than North Korean missile tests in July.

Aso called the North's self-described plan "totally unforgivable," and said Japan would react "sternly" if the North conducted a nuclear test, according to Kyodo News agency.

China, North Korea's neighbour, ally and chief benefactor, had no immediate comment. The North Korean announcement appeared to have caught Chinese officialdom off-guard, coming in the midst of a weeklong National Day holiday.

Pyongyang has said it has nuclear weapons, but is not known to have conducted any test to prove its claim. It has not mentioned a nuclear test in previous public statements.

"The U.S. extreme threat of a nuclear war and sanctions and pressure compel the DPRK to conduct a nuclear test, an essential process for bolstering nuclear deterrent, as a corresponding measure for defence," said the statement, carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

The North's "nuclear weapons will serve as reliable war deterrent for protecting the supreme interests of the state and the security of the Korean nation from the U.S. threat of aggression and averting a new war and firmly safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula under any circumstances," the statement said.

Multilateral talks on the North's nuclear program have been stalled for almost a year. Pyongyang has boycotted the six-nation talks to protest U.S. financial restrictions imposed for its alleged illegal activity, including money laundering and counterfeiting.

The North said Tuesday that its ultimate goal is "to settle hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S. and to remove the very source of all nuclear threats from the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity," accusing the U.S. of posing a nuclear threat in the region.
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