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N. Korea Warns Against U.N. Move

Pyongyang says that any U.S. discussion of the nuclear standoff at the Security Council would be a 'prelude to war.'

August 03, 2003|From Associated Press

SEOUL — North Korea on Saturday warned that any moves to discuss its suspected nuclear weapons programs at the United Nations would "hamstring" efforts for dialogue and be a "prelude to war."

The warning came a day after the communist country agreed to multilateral talks over the nuclear standoff. North Korea, fearful the United Nations may impose economic sanctions, has accused the world body of siding with the United States.

"The U.S. intention to bring up the nuclear issue ... at the U.N. at any cost is a grave criminal act to hamstring" North Korea's efforts at opening a dialogue, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

"Any move to discuss the nuclear issue at the U.N. Security Council is little short of a prelude to a war," it said, reiterating past comments.

On Thursday, U.S. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton had criticized the Security Council, saying its credibility was at stake because it had failed to take up the North Korean nuclear issue.

The nuclear standoff began in October when U.S. officials said Pyongyang admitted having a uranium-based nuclear weapons program in violation of international agreements.

U.S. officials believe North Korea already has one or two nuclear bombs and can yield enough plutonium from its 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods to build several more within months.

China, the North's closest ally and a permanent member of the Security Council, had thwarted previous U.S. attempts to have the council condemn the North over its nuclear ambitions.

An early U.N. discussion of North Korea seems unlikely. Even South Korea, a U.S. ally, has said all diplomatic options should be exhausted first.

Washington long has pushed for multilateral talks on the issue, saying it wants Pyongyang to end its nuclear programs. North Korea has insisted on one-on-one talks with the United States, through which it hopes to win a security guarantee.

But North Korea on Friday agreed to multilateral talks, saying it would push for direct talks with the United States on the side. Washington said bilateral talks were a possibility.

The acceptance of a U.S. plan for a broader discussion involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia was seen as a concession.

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