- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council warned North Korea yesterday not to conduct a nuclear test, telling the isolated communist state it would face unspecified consequences under the U.N. charter if it did so.

“The Security Council deems that should [North Korea] carry out its threat of a nuclear-weapon test, it would jeopardize peace, stability and security in the region and beyond,” said Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, who presides over the council this month.

Mr. Oshima’s remarks, approved unanimously by the 15-nation council, also warned, “should [North Korea] ignore calls of the international community, the Security Council will act consistent with its responsibility under the charter of the United Nations.”

The vote came amid speculation that North Korea could conduct a nuclear test as early as this weekend.

The council’s “presidential statement,” which does not carry the weight of a formal Security Council resolution, also urged Pyongyang to return to six-nation talks and to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Japan and China drafted the statement, which the United States supported.

“We think the main point that North Korea should understand is how strongly the United States and many other council members feel that they should not test this nuclear device, and that if they do test it, it will be a very different world the day after the test,” U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton told reporters.

The United States maintains a force of about 30,000 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The council was in broad agreement on yesterday’s statement, putting aside sniping earlier this week to craft an unambiguous response.

“It was a very good statement,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said. “We are pleased that it has been adopted.”

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, who is scheduled to become U.N. secretary-general when Kofi Annan’s term expires this year, has offered to travel to Pyongyang to press international opposition to the North’s nuclear-weapons program.

Mr. Bolton declined to endorse the proposed trip, but said yesterday that Washington is looking forward to having fresh ideas at the United Nations.

In North Korea, television images of the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-il, showed him meeting soldiers at an undisclosed location.

The meeting marked Mr. Kim’s first reported public appearance since Tuesday’s announcement that North Korea would set off an atomic explosion.

Earlier, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi told Japanese television after meeting with U.S. officials: “Based on the development so far, it would be best to view that a test is possible this weekend.”

North Koreans are fond of anniversaries and a weekend test would coincide with Mr. Kim’s 1997 appointment as leader of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party.

The United States, along with South Korea, Japan, China and Russia, have been trying to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs in exchange for fuel and security guarantees.

North Korea has boycotted the talks for nearly a year.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to meet with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts this weekend to discuss the crisis.

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