The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

4 October 2006

North Korean Nuclear Test Threat

On my instructions, acting Departmental Secretary Mr David Spencer called in North Korean Ambassador Chon Jae hong this afternoon to register Australia’s grave concerns at North Korea’s stated intention to test a nuclear weapon.

The North Korean Ambassador was told that a nuclear weapons test would make North Korea less secure, not more. A nuclear test would be a grave setback to efforts to peacefully resolve the threat to stability posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. It would be totally inconsistent with the North Korean government’s oft stated claim that it wants a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, and would undermine stability in the region.

Ambassador Chon was warned in the strongest possible terms of the severe consequences should North Korea conduct a nuclear test. A nuclear test would be completely unacceptable to the international community, and would provoke a very strong international response. Such action would logically go well beyond UNSCR 1695, and Australia would fully support such measures. Australia calls on the United Nations Security Council to take a strong approach to North Korea’s provocative announcement.

Australia would also respond to a North Korean nuclear test by implementing new restrictions on the bilateral relationship. Australia has repeatedly told the North Korean Government that the bilateral relationship will remain on hold pending North Korea’s progress toward implementing commitments it made in a Joint Statement issued by members of the six-party talks in September 2005. This includes abandoning all nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons programs and returning to the NPT and IAEA safeguards.

The only reason that the six-party talks have not met for almost a year is that North Korea has placed conditions on its return. Rather than engage in provocative behavior, which jeopardizes the six-party process, North Korea should return immediately and unconditionally to these talks, which remain the best way to resolve the nuclear issue.

I am outraged that a country that has to rely on the international community to feed its own people devotes so many of its scarce resources to missile and nuclear weapons programs.

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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