Germany slams North Korean nuclear test

9th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 October 2006, BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday slammed North Korea's reported nuclear test as "a threat to the region and beyond" and called on the United Nations to take action against Pyongyang. Steinmeier, in a statement, called on North Korea not to carry out any further tests of nuclear weapons and also to halt its missile programme. "The German government strongly condemns today's nuclear test," said Steinmeier, adding that North Korea was "following the wrong path

9 October 2006

BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday slammed North Korea's reported nuclear test as "a threat to the region and beyond" and called on the United Nations to take action against Pyongyang.

Steinmeier, in a statement, called on North Korea not to carry out any further tests of nuclear weapons and also to halt its missile programme.

"The German government strongly condemns today's nuclear test," said Steinmeier, adding that North Korea was "following the wrong path into self-isolation."

Steinmeier said North Korea's "provocation" would have to be met with a stern response from the UN. The statement did not however give any details on what action Berlin was seeking.

"Today's nuclear test is a threat to the region and beyond," said the German statement.

A government spokesman said the North Korean ambassador in Berlin had been summoned to the foreign ministry to be informed of Germany's displeasure over the test.

Under the terms of Germany's 1990 reunification the German government pledged not to acquire nuclear weapons.

Germany's state-run Seismic Data Analysis Centre confirmed the suspected nuclear test in North Korea. The explosion had the strength of about 1 kiloton - or 1,000 tons of conventional TNT explosive, the centre said in a statement.

"Whether this was a nuclear explosion can only be confirmed beyond doubt once radioactive particles get into the atmosphere," said the statement.

A leading German foreign policy expert meanwhile cautioned that imposing sanctions on North Korea would not work and that the crisis could only be defused if the United States opens talks with Pyongyang without any preconditions.

"North Korea is following a simple strategy. They want to show the world they have nuclear weapons to prevent any sanctions or strikes by the US," said Eberhard Sandschneider, head of the influential German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).

Slapping sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test would be unlikely to have any major impact, insisted Sandschneider in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"Sanctions work badly and this regime has shown it is highly resistant to sanctions," he said. "They would probably only strengthen the North Korean regime."

Other forms of pressure were also unlikely to bring any positive results unless they were backed by military threats, said Sandschneider, adding: "But this would lead to catastrophe."

The only possible option for dealing with North Korea - as well as with Iran over its nuclear programme - remained "credible talks without any preconditions," he said.

"Security is what is of vital importance to the North Korean regime," said Sandschneider.

Any such talks would have to be initiated by the US which North Korea views as its major threat, he said, adding that North Korea had "no fear of Japan or South Korea."

Asked whether there was now a danger that North Korea's nuclear test could push non-nuclear Asian countries such as Japan and Taiwan to build nuclear weapons, Sandschneider said: "This is the danger."

He warned that the international community now had "a lot of work ahead" to prevent nuclear proliferation in Asia similar to that between India and Pakistan which both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

"There are parallels here. One state arms and the others try to follow," said Sandschneider.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the country successfully conducted an underground nuclear test on Monday.

DPA

Subject: German news

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