North Korea places troops on alert

NORTH KOREA was reported yesterday to have put its forces on alert and stepped up military training as members of the United Nations Security Council studied a report from its nuclear agency which stated that Pyongyang was hiding plutonium. The report heightened fears that the secretive Communist nation is building a nuclear weapon.

'North Korea has recently put its troops on alert,' the South Korean Information Minister, Oh In Hwan, said at the end of a special meeting of security-related cabinet ministers. 'It is examining its emergency communication lines, intensifying military training and increasing air defence facilities.' North Korea was restricting travel by its citizens.

Seoul newspapers, quoting an unnamed Chinese businessman who had travelled to Pyongyang, said the North had ordered its citizens to prepare for war. Maps showing key South Korean targets had been distributed and the authorities had implemented a 10-hour blackout and massive civil- defence drills in Pyongyang.

The North Korean official news agency said yesterday that tensions were becoming more grave by the hour and the US would be held responsible if 'the situation develops to an irrevocable stage'.

Security Council members were yesterday holding private discussions on a draft resolution calling on North Korea to submit to full nuclear inspection, which is expected to come to a vote next week. The motion does not mention economic sanctions, which would be difficult to apply to the isolated regime without the co-operation of China, but refers to unspecified further action if Pyongyang does not comply. North Korea, describing sanctions as 'a declaration of war', has threatened to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if they are imposed.

'We have samples indicating there must be more plutonium than they (the North Koreans) say,' said Hans Blix, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). When the agency's inspectors visited a nuclear reprocessing plant in Yongbyon after months of international pressure, they found seals had been broken and monitoring cameras had ceased to operate, and were barred from taking further samples of nuclear material.

North Korea claims it has produced only one batch of plutonium at the plant, but Mr Blix disputed this. If there is a 'second batch there could be over 10kg (22lb) of plutonium', he said. Experts say this is enough to make two nuclear bombs. He did not know if North Korea had the technology to make a nuclear weapon. 'What raises concern is the production of plutonium.'

President Kim Young Sam of South Korea is due to arrive in China today from Japan, seeking joint diplomatic action on the nuclear question. Earlier this week his forces were put on alert. But Washington, Seoul and Tokyo yesterday showed little enthusiasm for a Russian proposal to hold an international conference on North Korea, saying the UN was the best forum for resolving the issue.

President Clinton, who dispatched Patriot anti-missile missiles to South Korea this week, said on Thursday night that he was considering further options. 'The situation in Korea is serious and we have responded in a serious way,' he said. The US has 36,000 troops in South Korea and the Defense Secretary, William Perry, said Washington was considering strengthening its presence as a precaution.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures (an SThree br...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking EY...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor