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North Korea (Nuclear Test)

Volume 558: debated on Wednesday 13 February 2013

At 2.57 am GMT on 12 February, the US Geological Survey detected seismic activity in the vicinity of North Korea’s Punggye nuclear test site registering 4.9 on the Richter scale. The North Korean news agency confirmed three hours later that North Korea had carried out a nuclear test. This nuclear test is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions 1718, 1874 and 2087. North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme poses a significant threat to international security and regional stability. North Korea’s repeated provocations hinder the prospects for lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.

On the morning of 12 February 2013, I issued a statement strongly condemning the nuclear test. The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), immediately summoned the North Korean ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to underline the UK’s firm opposition to this nuclear test and make clear to North Korea that it can either engage constructively with the international community, or face increasing isolation and further action by the international community. The Minister met with the North Korean ambassador on Wednesday 13 February.

The UK participated in an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council at 2 pm GMT on 12 February 2013. The Security Council agreed in that meeting that this North Korean nuclear test was a clear breach of existing UNSC resolutions; and that there should be a swift and robust response from the Security Council. The UK will be engaging intensively with fellow members of the Security Council over the coming days to agree a robust chapter VII Security Council resolution in response to the nuclear test. We will also consult partners in the EU on strengthening EU sanctions.

I have spoken to the Japanese Foreign Minister and plan to speak to the Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister later today. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State has also spoken to the ambassadors of Japan and the Republic of Korea to confirm the UK’s position on the nuclear test. We will remain in close touch with the United States and with China.

I will provide a further update to Parliament, once the United Nations’ response to the nuclear test has been agreed.