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April 6, 2003
 
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N. Korea Rejects U.N. Discussion on Nukes
North Korea Says U.N. Security Council's Handling of Nuclear Issue Is 'a Prelude to War'

The Associated Press


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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 meetings.

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 last month.

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 arms.

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 spokesman said.

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 issue.

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 War.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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