G8 ministers condemn North Korea nuclear moves

 

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague: "If there is a missile test, we will advocate further measures to the UN Security Council"

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Foreign ministers from the G8 group of nations have condemned in the "strongest possible terms" North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

Tensions have risen on the Korean peninsula in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, a Pentagon spy report concluded "with moderate confidence" that North Korea had the capability to launch nuclear-armed missiles.

But their reliability would be low, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) said.

It is thought to be the first time that the agency has acknowledged North Korea's capability to produce warheads small enough to fit onto a missile.

The report's conclusion was made public by Republican Doug Lamborn as he questioned senior Pentagon officials about North Korea's nuclear weapons programme during a hearing of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

"DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low," Mr Lamborn said, quoting directly from the report released in March.

The study's conclusion was erroneously marked unclassified, an unnamed US official later told the Associated Press news agency.

'Belligerent approach'

Analysis

When all was said and done, it was the film actress - Angelina Jolie - who stole the show. And this was not just due to her star quality. The nuclear dialogue with Iran is going nowhere. North Korea is unlikely to be deterred by the strong words coming from the G8 in London. And the Syrian crisis is doubly intractable because the UN Security Council is divided, with Russia and China opposing any strong statements, let alone action. So this was a meeting of the G8 that emphasised the art of the possible.

The measures taken to combat sexual violence in armed conflict were thrust into the limelight. Many will say that a scourge that has afflicted societies from the Balkans to Africa and now the Middle East merits this kind of attention. But its billing at this G8 is a measure not just of its importance but of the intractability of so many of the other issues facing the premier league of world diplomats.

In a news conference after the G8 summit, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "if the DPRK [North Korea] conducts another missile launch or nuclear test, we have committed ourselves to take further significant measures".

The Group of Eight nations comprises the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia.

Britain currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the G8 and the talks are a prelude to the annual G8 summit later this year in Northern Ireland.

Correspondents say Japan, present at the talks, had been looking for a strong statement of solidarity over Korea.

North Korea has been making bellicose threats against South Korea, Japan and US bases in the region.

Mr Hague said the ministers condemned North Korea's "current aggressive rhetoric", saying it would "only serve further to isolate the DPRK".

Later on Thursday, US President Barack Obama also called on North Korea to end its "belligerent approach".

He added that the US would take "all necessary steps" to protect its people, while stressing that "nobody wants to see a conflict on the Korean peninsula".

Musudan missile

  • The Musudan, also known as the Nodong-B or the Taepodong-X, is an intermediate-range ballistic missile. Its likely targets are Okinawa, Japan, and US bases in the Pacific
  • Range estimates differ dramatically. Israeli intelligence suggests 2,500km, while the US Missile Defense Agency estimates 3,200km; other sources put the upper limit at 4,000km
  • These differences are due in large part to the fact that the missile has never been tested publicly, according to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Its payload is also unknown

BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says ministers agree that the combination of warlike threats from North Korea and preparations for new missile tests amount to dangerous provocation.

South Korea has raised its alert level amid indications that the North is preparing for a missile test.

Pyongyang has moved two Musudan ballistic missiles to its east coast. Estimates of their range vary, but some suggest it could travel 4,000km (2,500 miles).

A missile therefore has the potential of hitting US bases on Guam, although it is not known whether the Musudan has been tested before.

North Korea has increased its fiery rhetoric following fresh UN sanctions imposed after its third nuclear test and joint military manoeuvres by the US and South Korea.

The North says it will restart a mothballed nuclear reactor, has shut an emergency military hotline to the South and has urged countries to withdraw diplomatic staff, saying it cannot now guarantee their safety.

However, in the past few days North Korea's media appear to be in more of a holiday mood, due to the approach of Kim Il-sung's birthday on Monday - a potential launch date for a new missile test.

North Korea has been making bellicose threats against South Korea, Japan and US bases in the region

Humanitarian assistance

The G8 ministers also pledged to work to end sexual violence in conflict, calling for urgent action to address "comprehensively" the "culture of impunity" in conflict zones.

Mr Hague said he was "delighted" that ministers had agreed on plans to tackle "the horrific use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war in conflicts around the globe", which he described as "one of the greatest and most persistent injustices in the world".

Mr Hague said the G8 had "committed to the development of a comprehensive international protocol on the investigation and documentation of rape and sexual violence in conflict".

The UK announced £10m ($15.4m) of fresh funding to supports efforts against sexual violence.

In a statement welcoming the moves, the Save the Children charity said: "The majority of victims of sexual violence, especially in conflict situations, are children so we must ensure these funds reach the most vulnerable children as a matter of urgency."

Key North Korean anniversaries

  • 11 April - Kim Jong-un elected first secretary of the Workers' Party, and late father Kim Jong-il named General Secretary for Eternity in 2012
  • 13 April - Kim Jong-un appointed first chairman of the National Defence Commission in 2012
  • 15 April - Birthday of state founder Kim Il-sung (1912-1994)

The UN special envoy for refugees, Angelina Jolie, said that wartime rape should not be regarded as inevitable, saying: "It can be prevented and must be confronted.

"Finally we have some hope to offer victims."

On Syria, Mr Hague admitted that "the world has failed so far in its responsibilities, and continues to do so", adding that divisions over the conflict continue.

"This is on track to be the biggest humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st Century so far," he added.

Ministers called for greater humanitarian assistance to Syrians affected by the conflict.

They affirmed their support for a "political transition", but did not mention any punitive measures against President Bashar al-Assad.

Fresh evidence of links between some opposition fighters and al-Qaeda has made it even harder for governments to decide a course of action, correspondents say.

G8 ministers met Syrian opposition figures on Wednesday on the sidelines of the two-day forum.

Actress Angelina Jolie, the UN's Zainab Hawa Bangura and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague on the bid to end sexual violence

More than 60,000 people are estimated to have died since the uprising against the government of President Assad began in March 2011.

The London talks were also the first chance for G8 ministers to discuss face-to-face the failure of last week's meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on curbing Iran's nuclear programme.

Mr Hague called that failure "disappointing".

"We will continue to work with the twin-track approach of sanctions and negotiations, but... the window of diplomacy will not remain open forever," he went on.

Tehran says it only wants to produce energy but the US and its allies suspect it is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

Burma, Somalia and cyber-security were also topics on the agenda.

 

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  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 59.

    G8 - the public face of Bilderberg. The decisions have already been made!

  • rate this
    +94

    Comment number 58.

    If Syria were to invite the Russian army in to help them rid their country of these terrorist groups, how would this differ from Mali where the French army have been drafted in to fight the 'Islamic extremists' ?

    Of course the West would be outraged if this happened...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 57.

    48.
    kc_chiefs
    2 Minutes ago

    "@30 and @26

    You do realise debt is often a good thing? Debt you cannot pay back like backward countries (Greece for example) is bad - but being able to service debt - like paying off your mortgage - makes the economy work"

    Incurring debt , wasting the money then making the ordinary taxpayer liable depresses the economy

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 56.

    "Korea and Syria high on agenda at London G8 talks"

    With fine foods, fine wines high on the menu and plenty of backslapping afterwards.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 55.

    47. rideforever
    "Wars only exist to get politicians re-elected"

    Iv'e always thought they exists because of those that Profit from them, wonder who they are? wonder if they will ever get arrested for crimes of Humanity?

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 53.

    Mr Hague, meanwhile, has said his "personal priority" for the G8 meeting is a new agreement to prevent sexual violence in conflicts.
    He would do well to know what those in Syria he gives impression he supports are saying.
    Islamic cleric decrees it OK for Syrian rebels to rape women - http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/3/islamic-cleric-decrees-it-ok-syrian-rebels-rape-wo/

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 51.

    "GrampaGrumpy
    The 1914 scenario almost happened in 1885."

    There were a few differences: Russia and France hadn't yet forged a strong alliance and Britain wasn't even close to allying with anyone. The Schlieffen plan hadn't been hatched then either so any conflict would have been isolated to Russia and Austria/Hungary with a possible risk of Turkey, but not the general conflict started in 1914.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 49.

    How are China, Brazil and India not in the G8?

    The G8 is like the House of Lords - a closed group of fogie dinosaurs.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 48.

    @30 and @26

    You do realise debt is often a good thing? Debt you cannot pay back like backward countries (Greece for example) is bad - but being able to service debt - like paying off your mortgage - makes the economy work.

    People still invest in the US, UK etc because the debt is being serviced - Greece on the other hand is a loss because no one trusts them to pay back - they have junk status.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 47.

    Wars only exist to get politicians re-elected

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 46.

    The BBC and other media report this Korean crisis as if NK have committed some gross act of provocation and have suddenly aimed missiles at Japan, Seoul and US bases in the region. The reality is the US has had nuclear weapons trained on NK for decades, and run regular war games in which they actually practice nuclear strikes on NK! So who is actually the provocateur here?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 45.

    If I see the word 'bellicose' used in one more article, either on the BBC or elsewhere, I think I might go nuts.

    I'd never even seen it used before this past week, now it is in everything from North Korea articles to Thatcher editorials. Grab a thesaurus and find a few synonyms!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 44.

    12.paulmerhaba
    "I am sort of thinking of forming a group to over throw the western world.and am looking for volunteers."
    -
    First get your sponsors, then the volunteers will flood in!
    How about Spratley's Wensleydale Cheese World Revolution?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 43.

    Surely the G8 is an anachronism. Russia was invited as a reward for dismantling the Soviet Bloc - but they are mot exactly friendly to the West, and their economy is mot that big. Meanwhile, China is absent - not that they would agree to anything if they were present. The idea is good - like minded countries coming together, but in practice it seems fairly ineffective.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 42.

    Austria's 1914 attack on Serbia, via alliances, had most of Europe at war. If North Korea attacks South, USA retaliates on their side, what does China? Agenda item 1.

    The 1914 scenario almost happened in 1885. But Germany, Bismarck in charge, made clear to Austria their alliance was purely defensive, if they attacked Serbia they were on their own: they didn't. Will China show Bismarck's wisdom?

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 41.

    Syria's 'Opposition' are simply terrorists and armed groups. For the G8 and members of the G8 to even consider helping terrorists in anyway, simply tells us of the non-existence of moral standards in the so-called leading democracies.

    An opposition campaigns and calls for election and tries to win elections. That's what opposition does. Not bombing and blowing up people.

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 40.

    6.Black_And_Proud
    This week the main fighting wing of the resistance aligned itself with Al-Qaeda.
    And William Hague is sending them guns, ammunition and explosives, via Turkey, paid for with British taxpayer's money"

    Our career Politicians have been leading this country down the wrong path for years. You could not make this stuff up.

 

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