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N.Korea nuclear test sparks global condemnation


MOSCOW, May 25 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea's nuclear test explosion has been met by a wave of condemnation from countries around the world, with several leaders calling for sanctions.

Pyongyang announced the bomb test earlier on Monday, and South Korean media said three surface-to-air missiles were launched soon afterwards. The tremor from the underground nuclear blast was confirmed in several countries.

The United States and France have called for action to be taken against Pyongyang, while Russia and China have urged for a return to dialogue. North Korea pulled out of six-nation talks on its denuclearization last month.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said the nuclear test "is a serious blow to international efforts aimed at strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and undermines the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty."

The North's actions "provoke an escalation of tensions in northeast Asia, and threaten security and stability in the region," the statement said.

Russia, which holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, convened an emergency meeting on the issue, to be held later on Monday.

China, the communist state's closest ally, joined in the international condemnation. The country's Foreign Ministry said: "The Chinese government expresses a resolute protest against North Korea's conducting of a new nuclear test despite protests from the international community."

North Korea's official news agency said the blast was stronger than the country's first nuclear test in 2006. The explosion was "safely conducted at a new higher level in terms of explosive power and control technology", the statement said.

Seismic readings taken by international scientists appeared to confirm the North's claim. Geological survey agencies said they had detected a 4.7-magnitude tremor in the area where the blast is believed to have taken place, and Russia said the blast had a yield of 10-20 kilotons of TNT equivalent. Russian meteorological stations are currently monitoring the area near the North Korean border for signs of radioactivity.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned of international sanctions against Pyongyang.

"These irresponsible acts by North Korea warrant a firm response by the international community. The EU will be in contact with its partners to discuss appropriate measures," he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso told reporters on that his country would push for a UN resolution to be adopted against North Korea.

The test "is an obvious violation of the UN Security Council resolution... Naturally, we will insist that a Security Council resolution be adopted," he said.

The six-nation talks, involving North and South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States, were launched in 2003 after Pyongyang withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

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