U.N. Envoy Sees 'Real Potential' for N. Korea War
Thursday 3 April 2003
LONDON - North Korea's nuclear standoff with the United States has the potential to develop into war, the U.N. envoy to Pyongyang said on Thursday.
"There is a real potential for this escalating into conflict," Maurice Strong told a London news conference. "I think war is unnecessary, unthinkable in its consequences, and yet it is entirely possible."
Strong said he did not believe the United States wanted to attack North Korea, and nor did North Korea want war. But there were risks of a breakdown of trust and confidence, he said.
The nuclear standoff began after Pyongyang expelled U.N. inspectors, pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and reactivated a power plant after Washington said in October that North Korea had admitted to an atomic arms program.
The U.S.-led war on Iraq has sparked concerns in North Korea that it will be Washington's next target.
Strong said United Nations Security Council discussions on the North Korean crisis due to be held on April 9 could include the issue of imposing economic sanctions on North Korea.
North Korea has said the imposition of economic sanctions would be tantamount to a declaration of war.
"I can't imagine the Security Council moving quickly to impose sanctions," the envoy said.
Strong said he did not expect the April 9 meeting to produce a resolution to the standoff, rather it was part of a process.
Pyongyang has said nuclear war is inevitable unless Washington changes its ways and it wants the United States to give it a "security guarantee" that it will not be attacked.
The United States has said "they are prepared to give some form of security guarantee," Strong said. But he added that he did not believe it was feasible that the United States would agree to a non-aggression pact.
Strong described North Korea as "prepared for war, but anxious for peace."
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