North Korea rejects US nuclear offer

North Korea has dismissed US proposals to follow the example of Libya and scrap its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and diplomatic recognition.

    The communist leadership has been driving a hard bargain

    Washington laid out a plan for North Korea last month that would extend multilateral energy aid after the North first commits to dismantle all of its nuclear programmes and begins a verifiable disarmament process.

    US officials have also urged North Korea to emulate Libya and trade away its nuclear arms and other dangerous weapons for better ties with the West. Tripoli moved quickly from declaring its intent to scrap banned weapons in December to the lifting of US sanctions to full diplomatic ties in June.

    "The landmark proposal made by the United States is little worthy to be considered any longer," the official KCNA news agency quoted a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying on Saturday.

    Numerous rounds of talks have
    been held on the nuclear issue

    The statement was North Korea's most detailed public comment on proposals advanced last month at six-party talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, the United States, China and Russia. It did not threaten to stay away from the next round in September.

    It said the Libya advice was "worse still", because it demanded unilateral disarmament by North Korea.

    "It is a daydream for the US to contemplate forcing the DPRK to lay down arms first under the situation where both are in a state of armistice and at war technically," it said, using the initials for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    "The US is foolish enough to calculate that such mode imposed upon Libya would be accepted by the DPRK, too," it said.

    Continued impasse

    The statement came two days after US disarmament diplomat John Bolton finished a tour of South Korea during which he said the US proposal and Washington's response to Libya showed the Bush administration was serious about solving the nuclear impasse and not stalling before the November election.

    The US proposal would have the other five negotiating parties - South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States - respond as Pyongyang fulfilled its commitments.

    "The US is foolish enough to calculate that such mode imposed upon Libya would be accepted by the DPRK, too"

    North Korean statement

    If North Korea agrees to dismantle its nuclear programmes, including a uranium-enrichment programme the North denies it has, Washington is expected to provide Pyongyang with security assurances. Other negotiating parties such as Japan and South Korea are expected to offer energy assistance to the country.

    The nuclear crisis erupted in October 2002 when US officials said North Korea admitted it was working on a secret programme to enrich uranium for weapons. North Korea now denies having such a programme.

    Pyongyang may have at least one and perhaps as many as eight nuclear weapons, US officials say.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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