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Talks With North Korea 'Will Not End Sanctions'

Rice being loaded on October 10 onto a South Korean ship to be delivered to North Korea (epa) October 16, 2006 -- The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, said today that a return by North Korea to stalled six-party talks on its nuclear program would not be sufficient to end UN sanctions.

At the weekend, a Security Council resolution imposed financial and weapons sanctions on North Korea following its declaration that it conducted a nuclear weapons test on October 9.

The concern raised by North Korea's move was reflected on October 15 by a statement in which Shoichi Nakagawa, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council, reportedly said that Japan now needs to discuss whether to create its own nuclear deterrent. Those comments prompted the chief secretary of Japan's cabinet, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, to go on record on October 16 as saying that the government is committed to remaining a non-nuclear power.

Christopher Hill, the top U.S. envoy on North Korea's nuclear program, is currently on a tour of the Far East aimed, as he said on arriving on Japan on October 16, at encouraging North Korea to follow "a different path."

Hill will hold talks in South Korea on October 17.

The sanctions focus on preventing the flow of military hardware to North Korea, and also target the country's leadership. The sanctions do not apply to food aid.

However, the UN's food agency, the World Food Program, is warning that millions of North Koreans face "real hardship." South Korea stopped delivering food aid after North Korea fired a series of missiles in July, and the UN says supplies from China, North Korea's largest food donor, are just one-third of last year's levels.

North Korea has received support from Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who on October 16 attacked the UN's decision to impose sanctions on North Korea. He also rejected as "illegal" a Security Council demand that Tehran suspend its own uranium enrichment activities.

(Reuters, AP, AFP)