Japan goes off script at nuclear summit to slam North Korea

Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:14am EDT
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By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Jack Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - Japan steered off the agenda at a nuclear security summit on Tuesday to hit out at North Korea's plans for a rocket launch next month, as U.S. President Barack Obama cautioned against complacency in dealing with the threat of nuclear terrorism.

The summit was briefly interrupted by a dispute between Argentina and Britain, which went to war in 1982 over the Falkland Islands, over suggestions Britain had sent a submarine capable of carrying nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic.

A communiqué issued at the end of the two-day meeting of more than 50 world leaders in Seoul was light on specifics on how to reduce the risk of atomic materials falling into bad hands, loosely calling for all vulnerable material to be secured in four years.

The world's biggest nuclear concerns, those surrounding the weapons programs of North Korea and Iran, were not on the agenda at the summit, and neither country was invited.

The secretive North has been widely criticized on the sidelines of the meeting, including by main ally China, but host South Korea has explicitly stated the North's weapons of mass destruction programs were off the table during the summit itself.

The forum is meant to deal only with safeguarding nuclear material and facilities and preventing trafficking.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ignored protocol and urged the international community to strongly demand North Korea exercise self-restraint over next month's planned rocket launch.

"The planned missile launch North Korea recently announced would go against the international community's nuclear non-proliferation effort and violate U.N. Security Council resolutions," Noda said in an opening speech.   Continued...

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (2nd R) is being greeted as he arrives at Gimpo airport in Seoul for the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Wally Santana/Pool