Seoul/Tokyo, Jan. 22 (Reuters): With Pyongyang’s nuclear ambition casting a shadow over the Korean peninsula, the top US arms control diplomat said today that North Korea’s decision to quit a treaty curbing the spread of atomic arms could be taken to the UN Security Council this week.
US undersecretary of state John Bolton was speaking just hours after a North Korean official repeated that Pyongyang had no intention of developing nuclear weapons.
“I don’t think that it’s a question of ‘If’ it goes to the Security Council... It’s a matter of time,” Bolton told a news conference after talks on the issue with South Korean foreign minister Choi Song-hong.
US’ fellow permanent Security Council members — Britain, France, China and Russia — opposed North Korea having nuclear weapons and should have no objection to the issue being taken to the council, he said.
Asked about the reluctance of some countries to move swiftly to the council, Bolton said: “There is complete agreement that the end result has to be the elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.”
The crisis was sparked in October when the US said the Communist North had admitted to developing nuclear arms.
Pyongyang last month ejected UN nuclear inspectors, removed the seals from a mothballed reactor and then pulled out of a global treaty to prevent the spread of atomic weapons. It has insisted the only solution to the impasse is to hold direct talks with the US, which a year ago grouped the North with Iraq and Iran in an “axis of evil”, and for Washington to sign a non-aggression treaty. A response to Bolton’s remarks was swift.
North Korea would resume tests of ballistic missiles if the Security Council begins discussions on the crisis, diplomatic sources close to North Korea said in Tokyo.
“The North would lift its self-imposed moratorium on missile launches if and when the issue is referred to the Security Council,” said a source, adding that an actual test launch would follow soon.