THAILAND QUOTE - UN leader Ban Ki-moon warned North Korea on Friday against conducting a nuclear test, amid speculation Pyongyang may be planning such a move after a failed rocket launch earlier this month.
Labelling the rocket launch a "threat to international peace and security," Ban said North Korea should not take any "further provocative actions or conduct any nuclear test.""(It) must heed the calls of the international community for maintaining peace in the region," he told a news conference during a visit to New Delhi.
The UN secretary general's comments came amid fears that North Korea could soon conduct a third nuclear test, possibly within two weeks, after the failed rocket launch embarrassed the new regime of leader Kim Jong-Un. South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper has reported on preparations for a test in the northeastern town of Punggye-ri, where the North carried out two previous nuclear blasts in 2006 and 2009.
A South Korean government official told AFP on April 8 on condition of anonymity that satellite images showed a new underground tunnel built at the nuclear test site besides two others where the previous tests were conducted. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also warned Pyongyang, saying during a visit to Brazil on Tuesday that even though the rocket launch was a failure, it still amounted to a "provocation." Ban was in India on a three-day visit, which included a meeting earlier Friday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
While praising India's economic growth, Ban highlighted the "serious challenges" thrown up by a widening disparity between the rich and poor.
"There are many people who are not able to have access to basic services. The basic support must be given to these people," he told reporters. He urged India, which is pushing for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, to "play an even greater role" in international affairs.
Ban also reiterated his alarm at the continuing violence in Syria, saying it was a clear contravention of the government's commitments under an agreed peace plan. "The continued repression of the civilian population is totally unacceptable. It must stop immediately. The government of Syria must live up to its promises to the world," he said. (AFP)