North Korea Threatens To Fire Nuclear Missile - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


North Korea Threatens To Fire Nuclear Missile

North Korea could launch a nuclear missile unless the U.S. sits down for face-to-face talks, an unnamed North Korean official was quoted as saying Tuesday.

The world, meanwhile, was lining up against the reclusive regime of Kim Jong Il, with even longtime ally China saying Monday's reported nuclear test had harmed relations. The U.N. Security Council prepared to further discuss sanctions on Tuesday.

"We hope the situation will be resolved before an unfortunate incident of us firing a nuclear missile comes," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a North Korean official as saying. "That depends on how the U.S. will act."

The official said the nuclear test was "an expression of our intention to face the United States across the negotiating table," reported Yonhap, which didn't say how or where it contacted the official, or why no name was given, according to an Associated Press report.

Despite the reported threat, the North's missiles are not likely to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and a test firing of an alleged long-range missile failed in July. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Tuesday threats from Pyongyang would not work.

"This is the way North Korea typically negotiates -- by threat and intimidation," Bolton said. "It's worked for them before. It's not going to work this time."

Doubts even remained Tuesday that Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test.

That's because Western measurements showed an explosion equivalent to about 500 metric tons of TNT, which a senior U.S. intelligence community official said was unusually small for a nuclear blast.

By comparison, nuclear tests in 1998 by India and Pakistan were about 24 to 50 times as powerful, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Despite those doubts, North Korea's claim of a nuclear test may be enough to bring U.N. sanctions. U.N. Security Council members will resume closed-door discussions Tuesday of U.S.-proposed sanctions.

The U.S. proposals include cargo inspections and an embargo on goods that could be used in Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs.

Bolton said Tuesday sanctions would be written to harm Kim's government, not the people of North Korea.

"Our draft resolution, in fact, carves out explicit exemptions for humanitarian supplies. ... We will try to keep that flowing to the North Korean people who need it," Bolton said.

Any sanctions would need the support of Russia and China, which hold veto power in the U.N. body.

While the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman ruled out any military actions, a South Korean diplomat visiting China said Beijing appeared ready to back some form of sanctions, AP reported.

"The nuclear test will undoubtedly exert a negative impact on our relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said in a report from The Associated Press. Liu said Monday's test was done "flagrantly, and in disregard of the international community's shared opposition."

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said his country would reconsider its policy of engagement with the North, according to a report from the Reuters news service.

Australia said it would impose various measures on North Korea, including curtailing visas.

And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo may impose sanctions on North Korea even if it turns out the test was a ruse, AP reported, indicating it may ban North Korean imports and international travel by North Korean officials.

President Bush on Monday insisted the United States "remains committed to diplomacy" to settle the dispute.

U.S. military units in the region were keeping a low profile, AP reported, with officials cautiously avoiding any comments that might provoke the North.

"We are monitoring the situation," Master Sgt. Terence Peck, a spokesman for the U.S. Forces, Japan, said on Monday. On Tuesday, officials said they had been instructed to refer all questions to the State Department.

CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae, Elise Labott, Jamie McIntyre, Liz Neisloss and Barbara contributed to this report

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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