Mon, Jun 30, 2003 - Page 5 News List

No more nuclear talks, N Korea asks

LETTER Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun's call to the UN Security Council comes as Washington looks to the council for a condemnation of North Korea's maneuvers

AFP , SEOUL

North Koreans cry as they watch their South Korean relatives depart at a resort in Kumgang mountain, North Korea, yesterday. A group of 100 South Koreans had a three-day family reunion with their North Korean relatives who have been separated since the 1950 to 1953 Korean war.

PHOTO: REUTERS

North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun has written to the UN Security Council urging it to reject discussion on the Stalinist country's nuclear weapons drive.

In a letter sent last week to UNSC president Sergey V. Lavrov, Paek denounced Washington for starting "a diplomatic negotiation" to bring the nuclear issue before the council, according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

KCNA quoted Paek as saying North Korea would reject "any decision or measure" to be adopted by the UNSC regarding its nuclear program.

"The US is seeking to have in place a legal system aimed at check and control by other countries, based on its intelligence information, of the vessels and aircraft passing through their territorial waters and airspace," Paek said.

Washington is pressing UNSC members, who opted to take no action when they addressed the nuclear crisis for the first time earlier this year, to issue an unambiguous statement condemning North Korea.

While South Korea has reservations about the US drive to bring the crisis to the UN, North Korea has accused the US of developing plans to mount a blockade of the Stalinist state.

Paek insisted the UNSC should not be used as "a cover-up to justify unilateralism and policy of pressure of a certain country," KCNA said.

But he suggested that North Korea was ready to resolve the nuclear crisis through "an organic combination of all necessary forms of talks."

"It is the stand of the [North Korean] government that bilateral, tripartite and multilateral or any other forms of talks proposed by the concerned parties and other countries concerned should be held in an appropriate order," he said.

North Korea and the US sat down for their first talks in three-way negotiations with China in April but no further meetings have been scheduled.

The nuclear crisis flared in October last year when the US said Pyongyang had admitted to running a nuclear weapons program based on highly enriched uranium.

North Korea kicked out International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in December and withdrew from a nuclear non-proliferation treaty in April.

On June 9 North Korea admitted publicly for the first time that it was seeking a nuclear weapons capability.

US officials do not know how far the program has progressed but they believe Pyongyang has already stockpiled enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons.

Washington is seeking support from its allies to choke off North Korea's alleged earnings from the sales of arms, illegal drugs and currency counterfeiting.

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