US envoy urges North Korea to scrap nuke test plan
A U.S. envoy said Monday that North Korea is playing a dangerous game with the international community by threatening a nuclear test and urged the communist nation to scrap its plan.
Glyn Davies, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy, urged Pyongyang to return to its international obligations in abandoning its nuclear programs.
"We find North Korea that seems bent on playing a game of risk. This is very dangerous," he told reporters after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Shinsuke Sugiyama, in Tokyo to discuss the anticipated nuclear test.
Davies was in Japan following similar talks with South Korean officials in Seoul over the weekend.
North Korea's top governing body warned last Thursday the regime would conduct another nuclear test. It said its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads and are capable of striking the U.S.
On Sunday, North Korea said leader Kim Jong Un had ordered top security and foreign affairs officials to take "substantial and high-profile important state measures." The move fueled speculation that North Korea is going ahead with plans to explode a nuclear device in defiance of the United Nations.
The United States has urged North Korea to return to its obligations under a September 2005 joint statement and abandon its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and a pledge that Washington wouldn't seek the regime's fall.
Davies said he was not optimistic, but warned North Korea of the consequences of its actions.
"If they go in the direction of testing a nuclear device, they are going to set back the prospect of any diplomatic process going forward. So, that kind of a provocative approach to dealing with the outside world will not serve their interests ultimately," Davies said.
China also expressed alarm about a nuclear test.
"China is highly concerned about the relevant developments. China is opposed to any acts that might escalate tension or undermine the denuclearization of the peninsula. We hope the relevant sides can remain calm and restrained and earnestly maintain the peace and stability of Northeast Asia," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily briefing in Beijing. Hong repeated China's appeal for dialogue.
He made a side-swiped criticism of China's neighbor and ally over its continued funding for defense programs despite a languishing economy, urging it to "develop its economy and improve people's living conditions."
Last week, the UN Security Council condemned North Korea's Dec. 12 rocket launch as a violation of a ban against nuclear and missile activity. The council, including China, punished Pyongyang with more sanctions and ordered the regime to refrain from a nuclear test, or face "significant action."
North Korea rejected the resolution, claiming its right to launch a satellite as part of a peaceful civilian space program. It warned that it would keep developing rockets and testing nuclear devices to counter what it sees as U.S. hostility.
Associated Press writer Charles Hutzler contributed to this report from Beijing.