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U.S. Pushes Security Council on North Korea's Tests

There has been considerable diplomatic fallout from North Korea's long-range missile tests. Japan banned North Korean ships and officials from its territory and urged the United Nations to pass its resolution condemning the act.

The Bush administration also wants to see swift action from the Security Council, as both President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed North Korea to return to six-party talks on the nuclear issue.

Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton called North Korea's missile tests provocative -- and added that the issue should be at the top of the Security Council's agenda.

Referring to early comments on the tests, Bolton said, "I think that the tenor of that discussion shows how little support there is in the international community as a whole for these North Korean missile launches."

Some analysts have argued that the United States should talk one-on-one with North Korea. But Secretary Rice said that isn't likely to happen. Reiterating U.S. policy, Rice said that North Korea's nuclear and missile programs are not bilateral issues -- but rather international ones.

"What the six-party talks provide," the secretary said, "is a diplomatic infrastructure that can be used to resolve problems of this kind."

U.S. officials have tried to avoid reading too much into the timing of the North Korean tests or the motivations of the secretive regime. President Bush says U.S. officials are still analyzing the data. But his national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, suggested that Pyongyang might be trying to get some attention, at a time when the United States is hoping to keep the world focused on Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.