Tue, Oct 10, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan condemns test as threat to regional security

By Jimmy Chuang, Shih Hsiu-chuan, Ko Shu-ling and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Military and foreign affairs officials yesterday condemned North Korea's claim that it conducted a nuclear test, but some lawmakers seemed oblivious to the effect the move would have on regional security.

The military said that it has been closely following the latest developments in North Korea.

"We have been updating and following up the latest information of the issue. Everything is under control," said Rear Admiral Wu Chi-fang (吳季方), spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense.

Wu said that China's People's Liberation Army was still the military's main focus, but the ministry was also concerned about how changes in the stability in Northeast Asia would impact cross-strait ties.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release denouncing the test, calling it was a severe threat to regional security and peace, and urging the North to stop the development of nuclear weapons.

The foreign ministry also said that Taiwan believed that any regional conflict should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation, including the issues between the two Koreas, and Taiwan and China.

"We urge North Korea to return to negotiating table soon, and China should immediately dismantle its missiles targeting Taiwan," it said.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) expressed grave concern, denouncing the reported test as a seriously provocative act.

"The claimed test signifies that peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the Asia-Pacific region are in great peril," he said. "If the Japanese government or the international community decides to impose sanctions ... we will stand beside the decision."

Chen made the remarks while receiving a delegation of Japanese parliamentarians at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon.

He said that it was a serious matter that Pyongyang picked the time when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Seoul to carry out the underground test, following a failed missile test in July.

As a neighboring country, Chen said that Taiwan has no option but to heighten its alert. He did not give further details.

Several lawmakers offered their insights as to why Pyongyang had conducted the test.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) echoed Chen's comments, saying that North Korea's aim was was to "deliberately embarrass Abe."

"The nuclear test would surely affect the security of northeast area and create indignation in surrounding countries," Hsiao said.

She said that Abe had been enthusiastic about dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue and that his efforts to improve Japan's relationship with China should contribute to resolving the problem.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsieh Wen-cheng (謝文政), however, said that he didn't think the timing of the test was chosen for the sake of embarrassing Abe.

"It was North Korea's established plan to have the nuclear test today or tomorrow. The plan had been decided on a long time ago," Hsieh said.

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