Summary of the remarks by
EU High Representative for the CFSP,
before the plenary of the European Parliament
concerning recent events in North Korea
Brussels, 11 October 2006
Mr President, Honourable Members,
You have asked me here this afternoon, together with the Commission, to give a brief assessment of
what happened early on Monday morning, when the North Korean government may have carried
out a nuclear test. Let me say that it was probably, or very probably, a nuclear test, as we cannot,
from the information available to us at present, be completely certain that it was indeed that.
The most likely explanation is that a nuclear device made from plutonium was detonated, plutonium
no doubt coming from the Yongbyon nuclear reactors constructed in North Korea in the 1980s and
1990s. In all probability, it was a nuclear test and was therefore an act which we condemn, which
we condemn in the strongest terms and which we also condemn because of the degree of
irresponsibility which it shows on the North Korean government's part.
That nuclear test is not just a threat to the region around North Korea but also an act of aggression
against stability and security across the world. It is not inconceivable that such an act may have
implications for the global arms race generally.
I would like to make the point that countries in the area have reacted calmly and responsibly. I have
had an opportunity, over the last 48 hours, to talk to all countries involved in the region: to
South Korea, to China and to Japan. I have also talked to Russia and the United States of America.
All countries have shown the same firmness in response as we Europeans are showing, but also the
same calmness, lest the situation get out of hand.
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I would like to point out very clearly that this reprehensible act came just a few days after the
election as Japanese Prime Minister of Shinzo Abe, who immediately upon taking office, in a
gesture which does him credit, visited Beijing, which the previous Prime Minister had not visited
for years. After Beijing, he went on to Seoul, embarking on a full tour of the countries most
affected by the North Korean threat. In the middle of that kind, good-neighbourly trip, North Korea
decided to carry out its nuclear test.
With regard to the condemnation expressed by all countries in the area and with responsibility being
the watchword, I should highlight yesterday's meeting at the Japanese parliament, where Prime
Minister Abe stated very clearly that Japan would not respond by developing nuclear weapons.
That, I think, shows great responsibility on the part of the Japanese government, which we should
all commend. Emphasis should also be placed here on the constructive response by the People's
Republic of China. As you will be aware, China was leading the "Six Party Talks" which, although
stalled since last autumn, were regarded as a positive way of trying to resolve the North Korean
nuclear proliferation problem.
As I said, I have recently been speaking to all political leaders in the region, including the future
Secretary-General of the United Nations, who is at present still in office as South Korea's Minister
for Foreign Affairs.
I told them all that North Korea poses a threat to peace and security, not just within the region.
And, I should add, not just in its nuclear activities but also in its attitude towards missile
proliferation. As you will be aware, North Korea is continuing to produce, and maybe illegally
export to other parts of the world, technology for missiles to deliver either nuclear or conventional
It is important also to point out that this act by North Korea is an act directed against its own
population. North Korea is a poor country, where most of the population go hungry and do not
enjoy the living conditions we would all wish them to have; yet their government goes on spending
millions of dollars on an arms race or on achieving a nuclear capability of which it has no need
whatsoever for the development and well-being of its people.
I would add that the response of the United Nations Security Council, since Monday night, has been
correct, and that the reaction of the European Union's Member States has also been extremely
correct. It is important to point out that China has also made constructive statements concerning its
willingness to cooperate on a tough resolution which clearly condemns North Korea's conduct and
proves effective in avoiding proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons.
I would like to say, lastly, that the European Union, which voiced its unanimous and urgent
condemnation of Monday morning's act at the appropriate time, has also to consider its commitment
to and attitude towards North Korea. As I said earlier, this is a poor country, with which we have
increasingly tenuous relations, but with which we do still have a humanitarian link, to which I am
sure Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner will be referring.
I would like you to know that we shall be keeping the closest possible watch on developments over
the days ahead and that I shall personally remain in touch with the political leaders of all countries
in the region.
I do, however, Mr President, want once more, before concluding my remarks, to condemn what was
very probably a nuclear explosion carried out by North Korea and express the European Union's
strongest condemnation of it.
Thank you, Mr President.