N.Korea reportedly rules out more tests
BEIJING, (AFP) - US Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice headed to Russia on Saturday for more talks on
North Korea after the secretive communist state reportedly said it would
not conduct another nuclear test.
With Rice on a whistle-stop tour to rally regional support for the
new UN sanctions on Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il told a
delegation from his main ally China that no more atom bomb tests were on
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted diplomatic sources saying
that Kim had told Chinese envoy Tang Jiaxuan, who visited Beijing on
Thursday, of the decision.
Kim told Tang that North Korea has "no plan for an additional nuclear
test," the source said. A South Korean newspaper meanwhile said that Kim
had apologised for the first one.
The international community has been in an uproar since North Korea
announced it tested an atomic weapon for the first time on October 9,
despite years of diplomatic efforts aimed at getting Pyongyang to give
up its nuclear programme.
The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the regime, and Rice has
so far visited Japan, South Korea and China for talks on how to
implement the sanctions, which include international inspections of
North Korean cargo.
The United States says it wants to prevent the North, part of US
President George W. Bush's "axis of evil," from transferring weapons of
mass destruction and nuclear know-how to groups and governments hostile
to the United States.
A US defence official said Friday that a merchant ship from North
Korea carrying "cargo of a contraband-type nature" in defiance of the
sanctions was currently at sea, but declined to give further details.
"We believe it is carrying stuff that it shouldn't be carrying," he
said. Rice has been urging nations to vigorously enforce the sanctions
and take a hard line on Pyongyang.
But Tang, who met Rice in the Chinese capital on Friday, urged
Washington to take a more "flexible" attitude to the North Korean
"This is in the interests of all sides," China's state Xinhua news
agency quoted him saying.
China, the main provider of food and aid to impoverished North Korea,
got the Security Council to scale down the original US proposals for the
sanctions and has resisted taking a hard line on the cargo inspections.
But Rice, who also met Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing, said
China was committed to strong enforcement of the sanctions, including
preventing illicit materials from crossing the long border with North
"The Chinese made the point to us that they are scrupulous about that
land border and intend to be scrupulous about that land border," Rice
told reporters accompanying her on the trip.