SEOUL, South Korea April 6 —
North Korea on Sunday rejected the U.N. Security Council's plan
to discuss the standoff over its suspected nuclear weapons
development, calling it "a prelude to war."
South Korea's Unification Ministry also announced that
Cabinet-level talks with the communist North that had been due to
start Monday were canceled after Pyongyang failed to confirm the
The 15-nation Security Council is scheduled to discuss North
Korea's nuclear program on Wednesday, and Pyongyang has said that
any sanctions imposed on it will be tantamount to war.
Seoul had hoped to use this week's talks to try to persuade its
communist neighbor to scrap its nuclear ambitions in return for aid
and better relations with the outside world.
"North Korea did not respond to our offer last week, and
therefore the talks have been automatically canceled," Unification
Ministry spokesman Kim Jong-ro said.
North Korea called off two working-level talks with South Korea
For months, North Korea has insisted on direct talks with the
United States to negotiate a nonaggression treaty.
Washington has refused, saying a multilateral solution to the
crisis was needed. The U.S. administration has been pressing the
Security Council to adopt a statement condemning Pyongyang for
failing to meet its obligations to prevent the spread of nuclear
The U.N. discussions are "a grave provocation act intended to
scuttle all (the North's) effort for dialogue and aggravate the
situation on the Korean Peninsula," a North Korean Foreign Ministry
spokesman was quoted as saying by state-run news agency KCNA.
The Security Council's "handling of the nuclear issue on the
Korean Peninsula itself is precisely a prelude to war," the
KCNA also quoted the spokesman as saying that the U.S. invasion
of Iraq showed that Washington was not bound by international
agreements. A nonaggression treaty with Pyongyang would not
necessarily avert war because it might not be honored, he said.
It was not immediately clear if Pyongyang would drop its demand
for a nonaggression pact.
North Korea also said Washington is "seriously mistaken" if it
thinks that the communist country will accept the U.S. demand to
disarm. It said it will ignore any U.N. resolution on the nuclear
For weeks, North Korea has claimed that the United States plans
to attack it after Iraq. Washington says it seeks a diplomatic end,
but has not ruled out a military solution.
Last year, President Bush said North Korea was part of an "axis
of evil" along with Iraq and Iran, and accused it of developing
weapons of mass destruction.
South Korea has tried to keep a lid on rising tensions between
Washington and Pyongyang.
Also Sunday, South Korean lawmakers said they would work to
quickly set up a special parliamentary committee to deal with the
North's nuclear issue.
The nuclear standoff began in October, when U.S. officials said
North Korea admitted having a secret nuclear program in violation of
a 1994 agreement.
The Korean peninsula was divided in 1945. Washington keeps 37,000
U.S. troops in South Korea in a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean
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