G8 foreign ministers have condemned North Korea's nuclear activities "in the strongest possible terms," warning of tougher sanctions to come. They have also expressed "deep concerns" over the rising death toll in Syria.
North Korea and Syria topped the agenda on Thursday as foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States met in London.
In a statement issued at the close of talks the G8 ministers condemned "in the strongest possible terms the continued development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including its uranium enrichment."
The ministers said North Korea was acting in "direct violation" of four UN Security Council resolutions, saying the country should refrain from "further provocative acts" or risk further sanctions.
The statement said they were ready to "take further significant measures in the event of a further launch or nuclear test by the DPRK."
The meeting came a day after South Korea raised its "Watchcon" alert to 3, which reflects perceived indications of a "vital threat," in response to alleged rocket deployments in the North. On Thursday, South Korean state-funded broadcaster KBS quoted military officials saying that North Korea could test-launch several missiles imminently and simultaneously.
According to the South's Yonhap News Agency, military satellite pictures indicated that five mobile launchers had been positioned in North Korea's eastern province of South Hamkyung.
The UN imposed further sanctions against Pyongyang following its third nuclear test in February. Joint US-South Korean military exercises last month prompted North Korea to issue a string of threats.
'Appalling Syria death toll'
The conflict in Syria also drew considerable attention during the talks.
The ministers "expressed deep concerns about the increasing human tragedy of the conflict in Syria."
They said they "were appalled that more than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict," noting that there are now more than a million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and more than two million internally displaced persons.
They called for urgent humanitarian aid to support the latest UN appeals.
The divisive issue of the supply of arms to the Syrian opposition, a move already approved by the Arab League and desired by Britain and France in particular, was not mentioned.
ccp/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)