Posted: 01 July 2009 0453 hrs

Ban Ki-Moon

TOKYO: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged communist North Korea to refrain from further steps which may worsen a "very serious situation" after its recent nuclear and missile tests.

"I urge North Korean authorities to refrain from taking any further measures which may deteriorate the already very serious situation," Ban told a joint press event with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.

Regional tension spiked after North Korea on May 25 carried out its second nuclear test, followed by missile launches, which resulted in new UN sanctions.

The North has also vowed to build more nuclear bombs and to start a new weapons programme based on uranium enrichment.

Ban called on UN members to implement the resolution passed in response to the nuclear test which authorises tougher inspections of North Korean shipments suspected to contain nuclear- and missile-related materials.

The UN chief urged North Korea "to fully cooperate and fully comply with this resolution" and "member states of the United Nations to fully cooperate so that this resolution should be able to be implemented."

The North's policy has grown notably harder-line this year after leader Kim Jong-Il was widely believed to have suffered a stroke last August.

US and South Korean officials believe the ailing Kim is projecting an image of strength to bolster his authority as he prepares one of his sons for a takeover. - AFP/de

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