Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Russian military chief calls for steps to prevent North Korea nuclear test

Russian military chief calls for steps to prevent North Korea nuclear test

Russia's military chief of staff reportedly called Monday for steps to prevent North Korea from conducting nuclear tests, expressing a sense of urgency amid increasing U.S. concern that Pyongyang may soon conduct a test. "Today it is necessary to do everything possible in order not to allow North Korea to conduct (nuclear) tests," the Interfax news agency quoted Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the general staff of the armed forces, as saying. He did not specify what might be done to prevent it. "We simply must not allow to testing or existence of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula," he said. North Korea says it has removed fuel rods from a reactor - a step toward extracting weapons-grade plutonium - and U.S. officials say spy satellites spotted the digging of a tunnel and the construction of a reviewing stand in northeastern North Korea, possibly suggesting an upcoming test.

N. Korea Nuke Test Would Pose Challenges

With U.S. officials increasingly concerned that North Korea may conduct a test soon, how would Washington respond? "A North Korean test would embarrass China and might actually rally other nations to our position. But the result might push Kim Jong Il to take whatever steps he felt were necessary to rally his people into war," Weldon said. "The potential downside of a test is enormous," said Kurt Campbell, former assistant secretary of defense for Asia in the Clinton administration. "It would set off a chain reaction in the region with completely impossible-to-predict consequences." It could even lead South Korea and Japan to rethink their current policy against nuclear arsenals, Campbell said. "A surgical strike is not likely going to be effective. Furthermore, any military action creates the high risk that North Korea will respond using its substantial conventional forces, specifically its artillery, to pulverize Seoul".


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