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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
UK condemns North Korea missiles
2002 picture of Taepodong-type missile
The Taepodong-2 is thought capable of reaching Alaska
Margaret Beckett has condemned North Korea's missile tests and urged the country not to carry out any more.

North Korea has now test-fired seven missiles, according to Japanese and South Korean officials.

As the UN Security Council prepares for emergency talks on the issue, the UK foreign secretary urged North Korea to stick to a moratorium on missile tests.

"These tests are provocative, and only serve to raise tensions in the region," the UK's foreign secretary said.

Diplomatic calls

The last time North Korea tested a long-range missile was in 1998, when it launched a Taepodong-1 over northern Japan.

Long-running talks over North Korea's nuclear capabilities have stalled, with six-party negotiations on the issue being repeatedly postponed as neither Washington nor Pyongyang are prepared to give ground.

Mrs Beckett called for the North Korean Government to rejoin the six-party talks, saying the UK, US and Nato still fully supported the process.

"The only way the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will be able to resolve international concerns about its nuclear and missile programmes is through diplomatic negotiation," she said.

Downing Street branded North Korea's behaviour "irresponsible".

"It is important the United Nations Security Council leaves North Korea in no doubt about the strength of international concern over their actions," said Tony Blair's official spokesman.

'Aggressive'

For the Conservatives, shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said: "This is a reckless and irresponsible act which will only heighten military and political tension in the area and will be regarded by nations such as Japan and the US as an unprovoked act of aggressive intent."

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Michael Moore said the tests were worrying and provocative.

"Whatever the intention, an escalation of tension in the region is unavoidable," he said.

"China and other major powers in the region, along with the United Nations, must take every available diplomatic initiative to urge North Korea to revert to its moratorium on missile testing."


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See archive footage of North Korea testing a missile



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