G8 ministers condemn N.K. uranium enrichment program
The Group of Eight industrialized nations condemned North Korea’s uranium enrichment program at a meeting of their foreign ministers held in Paris earlier this week, a South Korean official said Thursday.
The G8 foreign ministers adopted a “chairman’s summary” after two days of talks concluded Tuesday, denouncing the North’s uranium program as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, the official said.
The ministers also urged Pyongyang to abide by its international obligations and address international concerns about its human rights record, the official said.
The move could serve as a boon for South Korea’s push for a U.N. Security Council presidential statement condemning the uranium program that has fueled concern about Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons capabilities.
Uranium, if highly enriched, can be weapons-grade, providing the defiant regime a second way of building nuclear weapons after its existing program based on plutonium.
But Pyongyang claims the program is to produce fuel for a power-generating atomic reactor. But few believe the claim by a regime that has pursued nuclear ambitions for decades and conducted two test explosions.
Seoul and Washington are seeking to define the illicit nature of the uranium program before reopening the stalled six-party talks so as to prevent Pyongyang from claiming that the program is for peaceful purposes.
China is considered the biggest obstacle to the push as Beijing opposes the Security Council taking up the matter over concern that it could aggravate tensions. China has claimed that the issue should be discussed at the six-party talks.
“Though China is not included, all other permanent Security Council members are part of the G8. In this sense, the chairman’s summary is meaningful in helping to create and build international consensus” on the uranium program, the official said.
South Korea worked behind the scenes to get the G8 foreign ministers to adopt the document, and Japan was very helpful in the efforts, diplomatic sources said.
The G8 groups the United States, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia.