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N Korea's Nuclear Test Sparks Increased Concerns Regarding Iran

Israeli officials are responding with concern regarding a North Korean statement that it successfully tested a nuclear weapon.

By Yechiel Spira
First Publish: 10/10/2006, 6:37 AM / Last Update: 10/9/2006, 7:45 AM

As the United States and the Western community looks on with concern after North Korea announced it has successfully tested a nuclear weapon, Israeli officials warn that Iran is close to such a reality and Jerusalem dare not permit Tehran to continue its nuclear enrichment efforts.

The White House is taking reports of the successful nuclear test seriously, while spokesman Tony Snow stated the reports of the test cannot be confirmed. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun convened a special meeting of his advisors to evaluate the new regional realities.

The news of the nuclear test was released by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which reported the test was conducted at 10:36am (1:36am GMT) in Hwaderi near Kilju city.

In Israel, officials warn that the international community is taking a passive ?wait-and-see? approach regarding Iran, while Tehran is working tenaciously to achieve nuclear independence while diplomatic talks continue.

Israel in the past admitted Jerusalem is very concerned regarding Iran?s nuclear program, but then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and other senior cabinet ministers stated Israel will not lead the opposition to the nuclear program, signaling the White House would fill that role.

The White House recently signed a law permitting sanctions against Iran, while the European Union (EU) is taking a far more friendly approach. EU Foreign Minister Javier Solana is an outspoken proponent of continuing diplomatic talks with Iran, insisting economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iran will not achieve the desired goal ? the cessation of Iran?s nuclear program.

In addition, no country has truly confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin for his key role in Iran?s success in its ongoing nuclear effort. Russian scientists and technology has made Iran?s effort possible, but the west prefers to avoid a direct confrontation with Moscow. Israeli officials have broached the subject with Putin on a number of occasions, but decided to abandon the initiative and make due with assurances from Putin that the technology would only be used for peaceful means.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to defy the international community, including the United Nations Security Council, brazenly announcing he will not stop for ?even a day,? as Tehran works towards nuclear independence, insisting his goals are educational and humanitarian, not aimed at war.

Solana continues to meet regularly with Iran?s chief nuclear negotiator, reporting ?progress? in the talks, expressing optimism that his diplomatic efforts will be successful.