The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

10 October 2006

DPRK: Announcement of Nuclear Test

Australia strongly condemns North Korea's announcement that it has conducted a nuclear weapons test, despite calls by Australia and the international community that it exercise restraint. North Korea's nuclear weapons program is a grave threat to peace and security in the region and beyond and an expression of flagrant disregard for the international non proliferation regime that the international community is strongly resolved to protect.

This provocative course of action was carried out in complete defiance of the spirit in which UNSC resolution 1695 was unanimously adopted. It contravenes the commitments North Korea undertook in the 19 September 2005 Joint statement including to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons programs, return to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards at an early date.

The unanimous condemnation by the UN Security Council on 9 October of North Korea's actions demonstrates the strength of the  international community's resolve on this issue.

It is clear that North Korea, by announcing a nuclear weapons test, has made a strategic decision not to follow the path of engagement and denuclearisation. The international community now has no choice but to adopt strategies to contain North Korea's mindless and provocative pursuit of nuclear weapons. Australia stands firmly behind these efforts and, where appropriate, will implement further sanctions against North Korea, in addition to those announced on 19 September.

North Korea has seriously miscalculated if it believes that nuclear weapons will augment its security. Its security can only be found through dialogue and peaceful co-existence, not isolation and provocation. North Korea's actions risk fuelling a regional arms race, further undermining it own security.

North Korea is the only party placing conditions on reconvening the six-party talks, the most effective mechanism to resolve the nuclear issue, and a process to which the other five parties have committed in good faith. US financial sanctions, and similar measures recently implemented by Australia and Japan, are legitimate law enforcement actions

In response to North Korea's announcement, I have authorised additional restrictions on DPRK visas, with very limited exceptions, including the cancellation of some existing DPRK visas.

Australia will also support the strongest possible UNSC action, with explicit Chapter VII sanctions, and will actively support strong expressions of condemnation in other multilateral fora.

The bilateral relationship will suffer further repercussions should North Korea continue down this path of provocation.

North Korea's actions place into even sharper focus, the plight of the North Korean people who have been made vulnerable by North Korean government policies that divert scarce national resources into WMD programs.

 

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555


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