The White House is warning North Korea against staging a second nuclear test. VOA Correspondent Paula Wolfson reports officials indicate they will not be surprised if Pyongyang tests again.
White House Spokesman Tony Snow will not comment on any specific intelligence indicating that North Korea is preparing for another nuclear test.
But he says North Korea has made no secret of its desire to be provocative. And he says it is not unreasonable to expect Pyongyang to try again.
During a briefing for White House reporters, Snow was asked what the consequences would be of a second North Korean nuclear test. He responded by saying Pyongyang would surely face further isolation.
"What you have seen already in the case of the first test is that the United States and the Chinese are working more closely together than ever before," he said. "And I dare say that they would become even closer as strategic partners in trying to guarantee safety in the Korean peninsula."
Snow said the North Koreans might act in order to test the cooperation of the five counties that have been engaged in talks with Pyongyang on its nuclear ambitions: the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia. He said in that case, North Korea will be severely disappointed
"Because they are going to find out that the parties, in fact, are resolved to make sure that the North Koreans renounce nuclear testing and renounce nuclear weapons," he said. "And we have offered a whole series of positive inducements and hope they will take advantage.
He spoke as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headed to Japan to talk about how best to enforce U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea after the first nuclear test. Her itinerary also includes stops in Beijing and Seoul - where she will also consult with the man chosen to become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon.
President Bush met briefly at the White House Tuesday morning with Ban, who was there to consult with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Snow said their short conversation focused on two topics: prospects for U.N. reform and the North Korean situation. He said Mr. Bush vowed that North Korea will not be permitted to disrupt the region.
North Korea has already declared the sanctions approved Saturday by the U.N. Security Council to be a declaration of war. Snow said he would not speculate on further international action to pressure Pyongyang, saying the focus now should be on implementing steps already taken by the United Nations.