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NEW YORK — In an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi criticized North Korea for launching its rocket over Japanese territory, calling on nations to embark on a serious disarmament campaign.

Obuchi said that the communist country’s recent missile launch, even if it was intended to put a satellite into orbit, represented a serious problem to both Japanese security and the stability of Northeast Asia.

The prime minister also said India and Pakistan tried to undermine the global disarmament movement when the two countries conducted nuclear tests in May. The blasts “pose formidable challenges to the nuclear nonproliferation regime,” he said in his speech, adding that the global community “urgently needs to find a way to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

Instead of pressuring non-nuclear states, Obuchi said Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — the five declared nuclear states — should increase promotion of disarmament efforts. He specifically urged Russia and the U.S. to implement the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) as soon as possible, with the goal of beginning a proposal for START III.

Obuchi said the basic issues of disarmament must be considered first, and that new ways must be found to prevent regional conflicts caused by ethnic and religious differences rather than stop them when they’ve already begun.

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