Another Nuclear Test Would Further Isolate North Korea, U.S. Says

By Jane Morse
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - If North Korea were to test another nuclear device, it only would increase its isolation and strengthen the resolve of the international community to guarantee safety in the Korean Peninsula, U.S. officials say.

At the daily press briefing October 17, White House spokesman Tony Snow was asked about reports that Pyongyang plans a second nuclear test soon.

"I think the consequences of a second North Korean nuclear test would be the further isolation of North Korea," Snow said.  "What you've seen already in the case of the first test is that the United States and the Chinese are working more closely together than ever before, and I dare say that they would become even closer as strategic partners" with respect to the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea’s nuclear test on October 9 created a firestorm of international protest, and the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution shortly thereafter to tighten controls to prevent financial, technological and material resources from further fueling the regime's nuclear ambitions.  (See related article.)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on her way to Seoul, Korea, Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow to discuss the most effective implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718.  (See related article.)

Snow said the North Koreans are going to be "disappointed" if they think their missile tests in July and their recent nuclear test are going to weaken the solidarity of the other participants in the Six-Party Talks to remove the threat of nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula.  Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and the United States, he said, "are resolved to make sure that the North Koreans renounce nuclear testing and renounce nuclear weapons."

He noted that the Pyongyang regime has been offered "a whole series of positive inducements" through an agreement it signed in September 2005 to abandon its nuclear programs. (See related article.)

Snow said the hope is that North Korea will take advantage of the incentives that have been offered by the international community.

The White House spokesman said President Bush met October 17 with the U.N. secretary-general designate, Ban Ki-moon, foreign minister of South Korea.  According to Snow, the two discussed the North Korean nuclear test and the United Nations Security Council resolution.

"The president," Snow said, "noted his determination not to let [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il threaten peace in the region."  Ban will be in Seoul to meet with Rice during her visit there.


At the State Department, spokesman Tom Casey discounted suggestions that a U.N. resolution regarding Iran's nuclear program could be weakened by North Korea's defiance of the international community.

"I think that the countries involved in the discussions of the package, the P-5 plus one [China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States plus Germany and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana], have a pretty clear understanding of what we are seeking and what we hope to accomplish through this resolution," Casey said.

"I don't think there's been any change in that position, and I would expect that the resolution that is put forward would represent that very clear understanding among the group. I don't expect there to have been any changes to have occurred to that plan as a result of actions on North Korea," he continued.  (See related article.)

For more information on U.S. policy, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula and Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.