Thu, May 08, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Scrap nuclear program, South says

MOMENTUM South Korea believes North Korea must immediately do away with all its nuclear work in order to get what it wants from the US and ensure peace

AFP , SEOUL

South Korea urged North Korea to make the first move in its standoff with the US yesterday, calling on the Stalinist state to scrap its nuclear program and warning brinksmanship would no longer work.

Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan said the US would be unlikely to grant the security guarantee North Korea has been demanding unless it dismantled its nuclear program first.

"It is very important for North Korea to take a bold step and provide momentum which would lead to what it wants from the US -- economic assistance and a security guarantee," Yoon said.

"The scrapping of the nuclear programme in a verifiable and irreversible manner would lead to the security guarantee that North Korea wants," Yoon said.

He said decision-makers in Pyongyang should ponder deeply whether it would be acceptable to post-Sept. 11 America for the North to demand rewards after breaching international regulations.

North Korea has threatened to scuttle all nuclear talks unless the US responded positively to its offer to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for economic and diplomatic concessions.

At the talks with the US and China in Beijing last month, North Korea offered to ditch its nuclear and missile programs in return for economic and diplomatic benefits, according to US accounts.

"We should not take it for granted that the US-North Korean talks will continue," Yoon told journalists.

"At this moment, therefore, it is very important for us to accelerate the momentum for dialogue and give a boon to those in the US who support dialogue [to resolve the crisis]," Yoon said.

North Korea yesterday called for inter-Korean national unity to fend off what it called the "US criminal attempt" to start a war of aggression against the North.

"All the Koreans in the North and the South and abroad should turn out as one to achieve the great national unity so as to frustrate the US criminal attempt to start a war of aggression against the DPRK [North Korea]," said Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of Pyongyang's ruling Korean Workers Party.

"The North and the South should promote co-existence, co-prosperity and common interests and join efforts in reunifying the country irrespective of the differing ideas and systems," it said.

Since the crisis erupted in October, the US has insisted that North Korea must verifiably end both its nuclear programs based on plutonium and enriched uranium.

South Korea and the US will reiterate their determination to solve the North Korean nuclear stand-off peacefully at next week's summit, officials here said.

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