NORTH KOREA WONT GIVE UP NUKES: OFFICIAL PAPER


2003-09-12
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A North Korean official newspaper has vowed that the isolated Communist country will not give up its nuclear weapons program.

"The DPRK [North Korea] has no ground to fulfilL any legal obligation to be subject to irreversible verification according to the treaty as it withdrew from the NPT," Rodong Sinmun, the North's ruling Workers Party newspaper, said.

"The U.S. demand for the DPRK's dismantling of its nuclear weapons program through irreversible verification is unacceptable to the DPRK."

The commentary said that the U.S. demand was "aimed to isolate and stifle the DPRK."

While the commentary is not the first to express such views, it comes just a day after U.S. officials said in Washington that reprocessing of spent fuel rods at a North Korean nuclear facility had apparently stopped, although the reason was unclear. North Korea can extract weapons-grade plutonium to build several nuclear bombs from its pool of 8,000 rods.

U.S. officials also said North Korea appeared to be developing a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States. However, the missile remains untested, they said.

Top negotiators from the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia met in Beijing in late August to discuss the 11-month standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.

U.S. and North Korean officials met privately and informally on the sidelines of the talks, but both sides simply reiterated prior demands. The talks concluded with an agreement to continue, but no date has yet been set.

North Korea wants a bilateral nonaggression pact with the United States before it abandons its nuclear arms program, while the United States wants North Korea to move quickly to scrap the nuclear program first.

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