China is "resolutely opposed" to the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) yesterday, the Foreign Ministry said in a harshly worded statement.
"On October 9, the DPRK flagrantly conducted a nuclear test in disregard of the common opposition of the international community. The Chinese Government is resolutely opposed to this act," said the statement.
According to a report by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the DPRK conducted an underground nuclear test yesterday morning.
The news agency said the test was performed successfully "with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 per cent," and that no radiation leaked from that test site.
"It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the (Korean People's Army) and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defence capability," KCNA said.
An official at the Republic of Korea's (ROK) seismic monitoring centre confirmed that a magnitude 3.6 tremor felt at the time of the alleged DPRK nuclear test was not a natural occurrence.
The size of the tremor could indicate an explosive equivalent to 550 tons of TNT, said Park Chang-soo, spokesman at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources which would be far smaller than the nuclear bombs the United States dropped on Japan in World War II.
Gary Gibson of Australia's Seismology Research Centre put the size of the blast at about 1 kiloton, the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT. Russia's RIA news agency quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov as saying it ranged between 5 and 15 kilotons.
The atomic bomb that struck Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, had the destructive power of about 15,000 tons of TNT.
The Foreign Ministry statement noted that "to bring about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and oppose nuclear proliferation is the firm and consistent stand of the Chinese Government."
China "strongly urges" the DPRK to honour its commitment to denuclearization, stop all moves that may further worsen the situation and return to the Six-Party Talks aimed at making the Korean Peninsula free from nuclear weapons, it said.
"To safeguard peace and stability in Northeast Asia serves the interests of all parties involved," it said.
"The Chinese Government calls on all parties concerned to be cool-headed in response and persist in seeking a peaceful solution through consultation and dialogue. China will continue to make every effort towards this goal."
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing talked on the telephone with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his British counterpart Margaret Beckett yesterday, and they exchanged views regarding the test.
Li reiterated China's position on the issue as announced in the statement.
The White House condemned the nuclear test as "a provocative act."
US President George W. Bush said that the test poses a threat to global peace and security and denounced it as "unacceptable."
Bush said the action "deserves an immediate response" by the UN Security Council, which was holding an emergency meeting by press time.
He also said the transfer of nuclear weapons or material would constitute "a grave threat" to the United States, and the DPRK would be held "fully accountable for the consequences of such action."
Bush said he had telephoned the leaders of China, Russia, the ROK and Japan after the test.
Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on the need for a co-ordinated response to the DPRK, the Kremlin said.
"The presidents agree that the brazen act of the DPRK has dealt a blow to the non-proliferation regime, and with this in mind, they stress the need for co-ordinated actions to resolve the problem," the Kremlin said in a statement.
ROK President Roh Moo-hyun and Bush agreed to deal with the issue "strategically through close consultation with friendly countries," an ROK Foreign Ministry official said.
Roh also told Bush that the DPRK's move was "very disappointing" and the ROK is taking it as an unacceptable provocation, and the country will support what the United Nations will do about it.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with Bush to take "decisive action" against the DPRK at the UN Security Council.
The two leaders, who spoke by phone yesterday, called the test a grave threat to international security and agreed to push for "decisive action" at the UN Security Council, which was to meet later yesterday in New York, Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
India said Monday it was "deeply concerned" by the nuclear test, warning it could jeopardize peace in the region, the external affairs ministry said.
In a strongly worded statement, India said Pyongyang is "in violation of its international commitments, jeopardizing peace, stability and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the region."
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry also criticized the DPRK for conducting the nuclear test, calling it a "destabilizing development for the region."
"It is regrettable that the DPRK chose to ignore the advice of the international community not to test a nuclear weapon," ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam told a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.
Aslam said Pakistan, which is also a nuclear-armed state, supported the Six-Party Talks aimed at getting the DPRK to step back from its nuclear programme.
However, Iranian state radio has blamed the nuclear test on American pressure of the Asian nation, accusing Washington of "humiliating" the country. "Not only did the United States not lift the sanctions it had imposed on the DPRK, it even increased the diplomatic pressure. Such pressure finally led the DPRK to conduct its nuclear test," the radio said in a commentary yesterday.
Source: China Daily