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Bush Declines Comment on Possible North Korea Nuclear Test


President Bush will not say whether U.S. intelligence officials believe North Korea is planning a nuclear test. An American television network is quoting U.S. officials as saying Pyongyang may be planning an underground test.

President Bush says he will not answer hypothetical questions about North Korea's nuclear ambitions because doing so may divulge intelligence information.

But he told reporters at the presidential retreat at Camp David that if North Korea conducts a nuclear test, it would only reinforce the need for countries involved in six-nation talks to work harder to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

"If North Korea were to conduct a test, it's just a constant reminder, for people in the neighborhood in particular, that North Korea poses a threat; and we expect our friends and those sitting around the table with us to act in such a manner as to help rid the world of the threat," he added.

The United States, Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea have been part of stalled talks with North Korea aimed at making the entire Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

The president spoke following reports from the ABC television network that say North Korea may be planning a nuclear test.

The network quotes an unnamed senior U.S. State Department official as saying the concern is based on recent activity at a suspected nuclear test facility in the northeast of the country.

That official says the information, though not conclusive, was brought to the attention of the White House last week.

North Korea last month defied international warnings and test fired seven ballistic missiles over the Sea of Japan, drawing international condemnation and leading South Korea to suspend most aid to the North.

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