G8 talks tough to Iran, North Korea


The G8 industrialised powers laid down the law to rogue operators Iran and North Korea, determined to put up a tough united front on the world’s top security challenges.

Meeting at a Canadian lakeside resort, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States demanded that Iran reveal the extent of its nuclear program in transparent talks.

They condemned North Korea’s alleged sneak attack on a South Korean warship, called on Israel to make good on promises to loosen its grip on Gaza and urged Afghanistan to step up efforts to take charge of its own security.

"The governments of Iran and North Korea have chosen to acquire weapons to threaten their neighbours," summit host Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper told reporters after two days of talks.

"The world must see to it that what they spend on these weapons will not be the only cost that they incur," he warned.

Endorsed by all members, the group’s final statement declared: "Our goal is to persuade Iran’s leaders to engage in a transparent dialogue about its nuclear activities and to meet Iran’s international obligations."

Four of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council are also in the G8, and the statement will increase pressure on Tehran to demonstrate that it is not attempting to build an atomic bomb, as the West fears.

On North Korea, which stands accused of sinking the South Korean cruiser Cheonan in a March submarine attack that killed 24 sailors near the countries’ disputed maritime border, the language was even tougher.

Recalling that a multinational investigation had found Pyongyang was to blame, despite its furious denials, the statement said: "We condemn, in this context, the attack which led to the sinking of the Cheonan.

"We demand the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea refrain from committing any attacks or threatening hostilities against the Republic of Korea," it said.

Mr Harper, Japan’s prime minister Naoto Kan and US president Barack Obama have led the calls for a tough line on North Korea, and all three will now talk to their Chinese and South Korean counterparts at the G20 summit.

The G8 was more supportive of Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai’s government, which they pledged to continue supporting in its battle to rebuild the country.

But the world powers urged Kabul to work harder to ensure that its own forces were better prepared to take over responsibility for security from the US-led NATO coalition currently leading the war against Taliban rebels.

They called on Kabul to "expand the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces to assume increasing responsibility for security within five years."

The government must also "combat corruption, address illicit drug production and trafficking, improve human rights, improve provision of basic services and governance and make concrete progress to reinforce the formal justice system."

The leaders also expressed concern about the situation in the Gaza Strip, warning Israel that its blockade of the Hamas-run Palestinian territory cannot continue in its current form and that more aid must get through.

The leaders also said they "deeply regret the loss of life" last month when Israel boarded a Turkish protest boat attempting to run the embargo, leading to a clash in which nine activists died.

"The current arrangements are not sustainable and must be changed," it said, welcoming the Israeli government’s decision to loosen some of the controls it imposes on the traffic of goods in and out of the strip.

"We urge full and effective implementation of this policy in order to address the needs of Gaza’s population for humanitarian and commercial goods, civilian reconstruction and infrastructure, and legitimate economic activity."

Israel’s blockade, imposed after rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli civilians by Palestinian militants, has come under more critical scrutiny since the deadly May 31 assault on the activists’ flotilla.

The statement was issued after two days of talks at an exclusive resort in Huntsville in the forests north of Toronto, where G8 leaders also discussed the global financial crisis.

Following the meeting, the heads of state and government were flown to Toronto itself for the start of the summit of the expanded G20 group of major world economies due to be held under tight security until Sunday.




N Korea seeks $75 trillion in compensation

Updated Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:43am AEST

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits a military unit

Massive compo claim: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (Reuters/KCNA)

Cash-strapped North Korea has demanded the United States pay almost $US65 trillion ($75 trillion) in compensation for six decades of hostility.

The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, says the cost of the damage done by the US since the peninsula was divided in 1945 is estimated at $US64.96 trillion.

The compensation call comes on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the start of the 1950-1953 Korean War.

KCNA said the figure includes $US26.1 trillion arising from US "atrocities" which left more than 5 million North Koreans dead, wounded, kidnapped or missing.

The agency also claims 60 years of US sanctions have caused a loss of $US13.7 trillion by 2005, while property losses were estimated at $US16.7 trillion.

The agency said North Koreans have "the justifiable right" to receive the compensation for their blood.

It said the committee’s calculation did not include the damage North Korea had suffered from sanctions after its first nuclear test in 2006.