Leaders of the eight industrialized nations have strongly admonished North Korea and Iran for their nuclear activities in a unanimous statement Saturday at the end of the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont.
In the G8 summit's final communiqué, the leaders also say they "deplore" North Korea's alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in March as a "challenge to peace and security in the region and beyond."
The statement calls on the international community to ensure UN resolutions against North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs are enforced.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the summit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the world must see to it that the funds the Iranian and North Korean governments "spend on acquiring these weapons will not be the only cost they incur."
The wide-ranging statement by the G8 nations — Canada, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Russia — also includes a sketch of a five-year exit strategy on Afghanistan, and refers to the situation in Gaza as "unsustainable."
North Korea has come under increased scrutiny since an international investigation concluded last month that the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine near the sea border between the two countries.
Pyongyang also tested a nuclear device underground in 2006.
As for Iran, the leaders said they are "profoundly concerned" by Tehran’s "continued lack of transparency" surrounding its uranium enrichment program. The G8 called for the full implementation of Resolution 1929, ratified by the UN Security council earlier this month, which authorizes fresh sanctions against Iran to rein in its nuclear program.
Western countries fear Iran is developing nuclear weapons and want more UN sanctions against the country. But Tehran insists its enrichment program is for peaceful purposes.
Economic recovery to top G20 agenda
The G8 leaders also called on Iran to "respect the rule of law and freedom of expression, as outlined in the international treaties to which Iran is a party."
As focus shifts to the G20 summit in Toronto that begins later Saturday, Harper said world leaders working to bolster the fragile global economic recovery are motivated by fears of another "cataclysmic event" similar to the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank in 2008.
"We can't afford a particular event that would cause a series of cascading events and a downward spiral of confidence," Harper told reporters.
"That is the lesson from 2008, and that risk today overwhelmingly drives leaders."
Harper, as host of the G20 summit, is expected to urge advanced countries to commit to halving their deficits within three years as a way of restoring investor confidence following the recent turmoil caused by the Greek debt crisis.
The prime minister said he sensed a "strong consensus" among advanced countries that mid-term fiscal consolidation goals are needed. But other nations, including the United States, are not convinced the economy has recovered enough for countries to begin turning off the stimulus tap.
World leaders are also divided on a proposal to impose a tax on major international banks. European nations such as England, France and Germany want an international tax on financial transactions, to pay for future bank bailouts, something Canada strongly opposes.
G8 a 'necessity': PM
Many have speculated the G20 — a relatively new assembly of industrialized nations and emerging economies — could replace the G8 as the main international entity to handle financial and trade issues, as well as global emergency responses.
When asked whether the G8 had a future, Harper said this week's summit "reshaped and re-energized" the organization. He also spoke of the "necessity" for a forum of "like-minded" advanced countries that could "quickly bring resources to bear that others might not have."
The prime minister and his wife, Laureen Harper, will provide an official welcome and reception at a Toronto hotel early Saturday evening for the leaders and their spouses. The leaders will then gather for a working dinner at the famed Royal York Hotel.
The topics include:
- Sustainable and balanced growth.
- Bank reforms.
- Reform of international financial institutions such as the World Bank.
- Trade liberalization.
On the summit's opening day on Friday, G8 leaders pledged to spend $5 billion over the next five years on maternal and child health programs in developing countries. Canada promised $1.1 billion for the global initiative, as well as an accountability report to ensure the G8 countries are fulfilling their promises.
With files from The Associated Press