Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

North Korean Nuclear Test Starts Fears of New Arms Race

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

North Korean Nuclear Test Starts Fears of New Arms Race

Article excerpt


FEARS of a fresh nuclear arms race rose today after communist North Korea revealed it had tested an atomic weapon.

Tony Blair condemned the move as "completely irresponsible" and the White House warned it would seek tighter UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

The underground explosion led to fears that leader Kim Jong-il, called a "lunatic" by American politicians, may already have his hands on an A-bomb.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said she was "horrified" by the move.

US allies of George Bush went further and called for an end to all food aid to North Korea to force its people to topple the communist regime.

The decision to test a nuclear weapon led to panic in financial markets in the Far East as the world feared a new arms race could follow in the region.

Japan and South Korea may now face pressure to follow suit and Iran may see the breakthrough as proof that the UN's non-proliferation treaty can be bypassed.

The UN Security Council was convening an emergency session.

Denmark, which sits on the council, revealed it had been told to attend a meeting in New York.

China described the test as a "brazen act", while Japan said that North Korea "needs to be made stupid" for its actions.

Kim Jong-il, son of the late Kim Il-sung, has ruled North Korea with a rod of iron for years as the country's economy collapsed and its people starved.

Along with Iraq, Iran and Libya, the country is a key player in what President George Bush calls the "axis of evil" that threaten world peace.

Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher said the US had been wrong to prop up the regime in the name of "stability".

"What we face is a maniac who is coming into possession of what will be a nuclear weapon. The lunatic regime of North Korea will end up being a nuclear-armed lunatic regime," he told the BBC. …

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