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N. Korea Conducts Nuclear Test Amid International Outcry
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North Korea announced on Monday the completion of a successful nuclear test, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

KCNA hailed the test as "100 percent safe", adding that there had been no radioactive leakage. This move occurred a week after the nation announced its intention to undertake its first nuclear test to guarantee its safety. Pyongyang declared in February 2005 it had nuclear weapons.

Although the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement last Tuesday, stating "it will never use nuclear weapons first," deep-seated concerns and denunciations came from across the international community.

In a rapid move, the United Nations Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a presidential statement, urging North Korea to return immediately to the six-party talks.

"The Security Council urges North Korea to return immediately to the six-party talks without precondition, and to work toward the expeditious implementation of the Sept. 19, 2005, Joint Statement, and in particular to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs," the statement said.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday that a nuclear test by North Korea would be a "very provocative" act with Washington warning on Friday that a North Korea nuclear test would be the "most incendiary" of events..

"It would be destabilizing to the region and could lead to further escalation of tensions," White House deputy spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

China urged for calm and restraint on the nuclear test issue.

"We... hope that all relevant parties must address their concerns through dialogues and consultations instead of taking actions that may intensify the situation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement on Wednesday.

This nuclear test comes amid international focus on the Korean peninsula.

Discussions on the North Korea nuclear issue were high on the agenda as new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China, the first such visit for 5 years. Furthermore, the UN are expected to confirm South Korean Ban Ki-Moon as the new Director-General, to succeed Kofi Annan at the end of the year.

(Xinhua News Agency October 9, 2006)

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