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G-8 Leaders Demand Iran, N. Korea End Nuclear Programs

The Group of Eight leading industrialized countries is strongly urging North Korea and Iran to halt their nuclear programs, and the group says the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism are the pre-eminent threats to world security.

The annual G-8 summit, which ends on Tuesday, also saw U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac signal that they are ready to put their feud over the U.S.-led war in Iraq behind them.

The G-8 urged North Korea to "visibly, verifiably and irreversibly" dismantle any nuclear weapons programs it may have. It said the country's uranium enrichment and plutonium production programs are a clear violation of its international obligations.

The G-8 also addressed Iran's suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, saying the Islamic republic must accept more intrusive United Nations inspections, without conditions. Iran denies seeking atomic weapons, but the G-8, as President Chirac points out, suspects otherwise.

Mr. Chirac says the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is a matter of concern for all of the G-8 countries. He says that concern was particularly underlined by Mr. Bush, but that everyone else shared it. And he says it is the G-8's hope that, through diplomatic means, Iran can be persuaded to accept the controls that are necessary in this case.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told reporters at another briefing that, despite strong U.S. concerns over the Iranian nuclear program, President Bush assured his G-8 colleagues that Washington has no intention of undertaking military action against Iran.

The G-8 says the world community needs to use arms inspections, export controls and other unspecified measures under international law to tackle the threat of weapons proliferation.

The warning on weapons came the same day that Presidents Bush and Chirac staged a public reconciliation after their bitter feud over the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Mr. Bush said having disagreements does not mean that they must be disagreeable with each other.

Mr. Chirac said the G-8 countries, which produce about one-half of global wealth, are confident that an economic recovery will kick in later this year, now that the Iraq war and the uncertainty it caused are over.