WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Edward J. Markey, the Co-Chair of the House Bipartisan Taskforce on Nonproliferation, released the following statement regarding reports that North Korea tested a nuclear weapon last night:

"Today's reports that North Korea may have conducted a nuclear test explosion are deeply disturbing.  The world just became a much more dangerous place.  Nuclear weapons are being treated as international currency for the purchase of respectability, when in fact they are the tools of the destruction of humankind."

"This action marks the first time that a country that agreed to forego nuclear weapons when it signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has conducted an actual nuclear test, thereby confirming its nuclear weapons status.   This is a wake-up call to the Bush Administration and a difficult challenge for the U.N. Security Council, which by its subsequent actions will signal to the world whether or not there is an effective multilateral response.  The Bush Administration has spent 6 years without a coherent North Korea policy, leaving the United States rudderless in the face of Pyonyang’s brinkmanship.”

"Sadly, had the Bush Administration been willing to more fully engage North Korea diplomatically, today's nuclear weapons test might have been avoided.  The Clinton Administration had begun to engage the North Koreans in direct talks aimed at halting the North Korean missile program and getting North Korea to fully account for all of its nuclear activities.  When President Bush took office, these talks were ended and the White House rebuffed efforts by the South Koreans to resume dialogue. At the same time, however, the White House continued an ill-considered proposal begun by the Clinton Administration to give North Korea two light water nuclear reactors.  This sent dangerously mixed signals to the North Koreans, which did not help the situation.  While the responsibility for today's test lies squarely on North Korea, the fact is that more could, and should have been done to avert today's test.”

"The challenge now is how best to bring the international community together to send a forceful message to North Korea that the world will not accept its disregard of its international nuclear nonproliferation commitments.  The UN Security Council needs to speak with a unified voice, and send a strong message to North Korea that it will face serious consequences, including tough economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, if they continue down their present path."

October 9, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein