Margaret Beckett calls for sanctions against North Korea

UK calls for sanctions against North Korea

UK calls for sanctions against North Korea

Britain will be pushing for sanctions against North Korea following news that it has carried out a first test of nuclear weapons, the foreign secretary has said.

Margaret Beckett described the test – which is in defiance of UN security council resolutions – as a “highly irresponsible and provocative act”.

Members of the security council met in New York today to discuss the crisis, and were strong in its condemnation of North Korea. Even the country’s traditional ally, China, has attacked the move as “brazen” and promised “resolute opposition”.

Speaking earlier today, US president George Bush said the nuclear test was a “provocative act” and deserved an “immediate response” from the security council.

He said he had spoken with leaders of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia by telephone and all had agreed that the nuclear test was unacceptable.

Ms Beckett said she would be pressing for a “robust response” under Chapter 7 of the UN charter. Any decisions made under this chapter, such as to impose sanctions, are binding on all members. Chapter 7 also includes the section which allows the use of force.

“The world is united in condemnation,” she told reporters this afternoon.

“North Korea’s action is in direct defiance of the will of the international community coming as it does just days after the United Nations presidency statement last week, which urged North Korea not to carry out its declared intention to test a nuclear device.”

This summer the UN security council agreed to impose weapons-related sanctions on North Korea under resolution 1695, but Ms Beckett said: “Any new sanctions would clearly have to go further than this.

“They should make it clear to North Korea that it must return to the six party talks, and stop disregarding the concerns of its neighbours and the international community.”

Her comments echo those of Tony Blair, who said this morning: “I condemn this completely irresponsible act by the government of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].

“The international community has repeatedly urged them to refrain from both missile testing and nuclear testing. This further act of defiance shows North Korea’s disregard for the concerns of its neighbours and the wider international community.”

His statement came within hours of news of the underground test, reported by North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA).

“Our science research section has safely and successfully conducted an underground nuclear test on October 9th,” it reported, adding that there was no leak or danger.

South Korean officials said a tremor, equivalent to a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, had been detected in north Hamgyong province, in the north-east, and the US Geological Survey said it had recorded a 4.2 magnitude quake in North Korea.