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Nirmala Sitharaman demands probe into North Korea's nuclear proliferation linkages

Manila: India on Tuesday sought a probe into North Korea's nuclear proliferation linkages and demanded that those responsible for it be held accountable, in a veiled reference to Pakistan.

File image of India's defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. AFP

File image of India's defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. AFP

Nirmala Sitharaman, who is on her first foreign visit since taking over as India's first woman defence minister last month, said in the capital of the Philippines that the nuclear and missile tests conducted by North Korea were in violation of its international commitments and have triggered serious concerns.

North Korea has launched a series of ballistic missiles that potentially can strike the US mainland and recently conducted its largest ever underground nuclear explosion, triggering a fresh round of sanctions on Pyongyang from the international community.

US president Donald Trump told the UN General Assembly last month that if America was "forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."

Addressing the 4th ASEAN Defence Ministers' meeting, Sitharaman said India had criticised North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.

"India has deplored these tests. We remain concerned about the proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies which has adversely impacted India's national security and that of the entire region," she was quoted as saying by an official statement.

"It is important that North Korea's proliferation linkages are investigated and those who have supported its nuclear and missile programme are held accountable," she said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan's links with Pyongyang.

Pakistan had secretly supplied North Korea with nuclear enrichment technology when AQ Khan headed the country's nuclear programme.

According to western media reports, Pakistan supplied vital machinery, drawings and technical advice to North Korea, allowing Pyongyang to enrich uranium as early as 2002.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had also raised India's concerns over North Korea's nuclear proliferation and demanded that those responsible for it be held accountable.

Swaraj's remarks came during her trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York last month.

Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 17:28 PM

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