(* This is a provisional translation by "WIP ジャパン" for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Aso

Date: Monday, October 9, 2006, 11:45 PM
Location: Central Lobby, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  • The North Korean Nuclear Issue

The North Korean Nuclear Issue

A short while ago I concluded a telephone conference with the foreign ministers of the five countries other than North Korea involved in the six-party talks. As well as that, I also had bilateral talks with China's foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing; Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union High Representative for EU Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana; the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Margaret Beckett; and Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter MacKay.

In this series of telephone discussions, we were all of the view that, if North Korea did carry out a nuclear test as it claims, this act represents the spread of a new nuclear threat, not only to Northeast Asia but to the entire international community. It is no less than an enormous threat to peace and security, a major threat and challenge to non-proliferation. The five members other than North Korea of the six-party talks have confirmed that we will remain in close contact with each other. I stressed that the threat from North Korea's nuclear test is not merely that North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon. The greatest problem is the spread of nuclear technology and nuclear materials, and their possible spread to other regions. It is vital to understand that this problem is thus not a problem of this region alone, but of the entire international community, and all my counterparts have endorsed this view.

In my conversation with China's foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing, I indicated that regional destabilization is a problem of the greatest importance, and underscored the importance of sending a clear message through the United Nations Security Council. My Chinese counterpart assured me that China would continue to work on North Korea for regional peace and stability.

It being the 9th, New York time, the Security Council is, I believe, about to convene. As the current chair country is Japan and this issue is planned to be raised in the Security Council, we will maintain close liaison with related countries regarding formulation of a response by the international community. In regard to the question of how long it will take to reach a decision, we must be aware that we will face a wide range of opinions expressed, and that it took eleven days at the time of the missile incident. I don't believe a decision will be reached today or tomorrow, but this time the matter is much more serious, because of its implications for nuclear proliferation. I doubt that any of the countries involved will oppose a strong response, and we expect the international community to send a message to North Korea quickly.

You say that you want the Security Council to send an early message. What is Japan's view on sanctions?

Japan's handling of the Man Gyong Bong cargo ferry during the previous missile incident is an example of what Japan can do. Measures are not framed directly by the Foreign Ministry but are put forward by the Cabinet. Today, however, a number of ships other than the Man Gyong Bong visit Japan's ports, and there is an inflow and outflow of people. A number of actions can be proposed in light of this fact.

Presumably the Security Council resolution should refer to Chapter 7.

Japan has Chapter 7 in mind. We expect the 15 member countries of the Security Council to reach a unanimous decision as they did at the time of the missile incident. As such, it is only natural to expect a range of opinions to be voiced, since the member states will be compelled to act once Chapter 7 is invoked. Of course Japan has Chapter 7 in mind, but whether such a response will be achieved is a matter to be decided in the deliberations of the Security Council taking place from now.

At this point, what is your sense on how China and Russia will react?

My feeling is that their response will be far more severe than when the missile incident occurred, in that a new nuclear threat has been brought into the world.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)

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