10/04/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA
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Tension grows over Pyongyang's nuclear test announcement

Seoul, the United States and Japan have taken unequivocal stands while Beijing urges everyone to keep calm.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Tension is rising fast between Seoul and Pyongyang while China has called on North Korea not to make any hasty moves. Today, Seoul's foreign affairs minister confirmed that his government "will not tolerate North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons and urges North Korea to cancel its nuclear test plan immediately."

Two days ago, Pyongyang announced it would be "compelled" to carry out a nuclear test in response to a "threat of nuclear war and sanctions" from the United States. The announcement did not specify the date of the test. The Seoul spokesman said: "North Korea should not take any further steps worsening the situation, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1695, and quickly return to the six-way talks without any conditions."

Resolution 1695, passed after North Korea test-fired missiles in July, condemned the launches and imposed sanctions. Since last November, North Korea has boycotted the "six-party talks". The two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China and Japan are party to these talks, which are aimed at averting Pyongyang's nuclear escalation in return for aid to its economy, which is in very poor shape.

China's foreign affairs ministry commented about Pyongyang's announcement and sought to calm the situation. "We hope North Korea will exercise necessary calm and restraint," a foreign ministry spokesman said. The US said such an action would be "provocative", while Japan said it would be "unacceptable".

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