N. Korea Vows No Nuclear Concessions, Cites Iraq
Saturday 29 March 2003
SEOUL - North Korea vowed on Saturday to resist all international demands on the communist state to allow nuclear inspections or agree to disarm, saying Iraq had made this mistake and was now paying the price.
"The DPRK would have already met the same miserable fate as Iraq's had it compromised its revolutionary principle and accepted the demand raised by the imperialists and its followers for "nuclear inspection" and disarmament," the ruling party daily Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary.
DPRK is an acronym for the state's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Pyongyang's latest comments came as U.S. commanders running the invasion of Iraq ordered a pause in a northward push toward Baghdad due to stiff resistance and short supplies. On the divided Korean peninsula, meanwhile, American and South Korean forces allied against the North conducted field exercises involving mock battles and amphibious landings.
"The DPRK will increase its self-defensive capability and fully demonstrate its might under the uplifted banner of the army-based policy," it said.
North Korea shocked the region five years ago when it fired a long-range ballistic missile over Japan, historically a foe of Korea. The North is currently deadlocked with the United States over Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons program.
The latest crisis began in October, when U.S. officials said North Korea had admitted covertly working to develop nuclear arms.
Without formally acknowledging this, Pyongyang insists any such program is purely defensive in face of what it perceives as a U.S. military threat to its very existence.
The impoverished Stalinist state has embarked on a provocative campaign to force Washington to enter direct talks and negotiate a non-aggression pact.
Over the past month, North Korea has intercepted a U.S. spy plane in international airspace and test-fired two short-range missiles. A Japanese report said the North may soon test-fire a longer-range missile capable of hitting major Japanese cities.
Relations between the two Koreas, locked in a tense standoff since the 1950-53 Korean War, warmed significantly in 2000 when the South's then president, Kim Dae-jung, held a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Subsequent rapprochement efforts slowed to a trickle after President Bush took office the following year signaling a more hard-line approach to North Korea.
He later bracketed the isolated Stalinist state together with Iraq and Iran in an "axis of evil," accused of seeking to acquire and spread weapons of mass destruction.
The two Koreas remain technically at war. The armistice which ended their 1950-53 conflict never led to a peace treaty.
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