Skip to main content

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Update)

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

On 9 October, the DPRK Foreign Ministry announced that it had conducted an underground nuclear test. There is still some doubt about the exact nature of this test, but given North Korea’s stated intention last week, there can be very little doubt that it was a nuclear test. We await further information to confirm this, but the international community is proceeding on the basis that this was indeed what the DPRK has said.

The world has been united in its condemnation of North Korea’s action, which was carried out in direct defiance of the will of the international community. Comments made by world leaders, nuclear experts and international organisations have highlighted North Korea’s isolation. This issue has underlined the scale of the counter-proliferation threat that we face. The international community are working together to overcome this threat to peace and security.

Discussions are taking place within the UN Security Council in New York. Partners have unanimously condemned the DPRK’s actions and agreed that a robust response is needed. Negotiations will continue. The UK will be pushing for a robust response given the clear threat posed to international peace and security by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, including legally binding sanctions. Under Security Council Resolution 1695 adopted in July there exists already a sanctions regime which requires all states to prevent missile-related items being transferred to or from North Korea. Any new sanctions will have to go further than this. They will make it clear to North Korea that it must return to the six-party talks, and stop disregarding the concerns of its neighbours and the international community. We should in particular strongly support the need for measures to prevent DPRK from exporting goods and technologies, which would help others develop nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.

Immediately following the test, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I both issued statements making it clear that North Korea’s actions were both highly irresponsible and provocative. Since then, I have discussed the situation with Foreign Ministers including Chinese Foreign Minister Li, Japanese Foreign Minister Aso and US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Those contacts will continue over the hours and days ahead. We have also called the DPRK ambassador in London to the Foreign Office to make clear our views.