Global Policy Forum

US Warns North Koreans about Nuclear Test


By David Sanger and Jim Yardley

New York Times
October 5, 2006

The Bush administration sent a direct message to North Korea on Wednesday, warning it not to set off a nuclear test, and later declared that the United States was "not going to live with" a nuclear-armed North Korea.

The later statement came in a speech by Christopher R. Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, reported by Reuters. "We are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea, we are not going to accept it," he said. Mr. Hill did not suggest what the American response would be and gave no hint of an economic or military response. But he said of North Korea: "It can have a future or it can have these weapons. It cannot have both."

Mr. Hill's comments, made at the newly created U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, contrasted sharply with Washington's muted initial reaction on Tuesday to North Korea's announcement that it would conduct an underground nuclear test "in the future." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a test would be "provocative," and the National Security Council released a statement saying that it would "severely undermine our confidence in North Korea's commitment to denuclearization."

Mr. Hill said the direct message to North Korea, delivered to its mission at the United Nations, was in keeping with Tuesday's responses. Some inside the administration complained that the responses were so soft that North Korea would read them as an invitation to proceed.

In an emergency meeting held at the White House on Tuesday, senior aides discussed responses ranging from embargoes on North Korean goods to trying new ways to engage the country in talks. But no conclusion was reached, and the administration's long-running debate about how to deal with the North continued Wednesday.

Meanwhile, American officials were pressing China to intervene, though it is unclear how much influence the Chinese have; Beijing asked the North not to conduct a missile test in July, but it did so anyway. On Wednesday, China urged North Korea to exercise restraint and pursue a course of diplomacy rather than "taking actions that may intensify the situation."

That message was a clear statement of disapproval from the country considered North Korea's strongest regional ally as well as its chief economic patron. "We hope that North Korea will exercise necessary calm and restraint over the nuclear test issue," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said in a statement on Wednesday. He called on "all relevant parties" to "address their concerns through dialogues and consultations instead of taking actions that may intensify the situation."

China was host to six-nation talks over the nuclear crisis until North Korea broke them off a year ago in a dispute with Washington. China has sought to bring both sides back to the talks with itself, Japan, South Korea and Russia, but North Korea's announcement of its plans for a nuclear test has again raised tensions.

In Russia the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, spoke with his South Korean counterpart, Ban Ki-moon, and "stressed the unacceptability" of a North Korean test, according to a statement. A test, the ministry's statement said, "can only aggravate this situation."

The Foreign Ministry in South Korea, one of the North's biggest providers of aid, said a nuclear test could alter its policy of engagement, The Associated Press reported. "If North Korea pushes ahead with a nuclear test, North Korea should take full responsibility for all consequences," said a spokesman, Choo Kyu-ho, after South Korean security ministers held an emergency meeting.

In a telephone conversation, Mr. Hill said he wanted to convince North Korea that it could not follow Pakistan's model. Pakistan tested a nuclear weapon in 1998 and endured three years of sanctions, but emerged after the Sept. 11 attacks as an American ally. "This ain't Pakistan," he said.

The timing of North Korea's announcement comes at what had been a hopeful diplomatic moment in East Asia. On Wednesday morning, China announced that the new Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, would visit Beijing on Sunday, the first official visit between leaders of the two Asian powers since 2001. Relations between the countries have deteriorated since then, largely over former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a memorial honoring Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals from World War II. After China, Mr. Abe will travel to South Korea to meet with President Roh Moo-hyun.

More Information on Empire?
More Information on North Korea
More Information on US Military Expansion and Intervention


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.