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Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 09:10 GMT
N Korea accuses US of 'fabrication'
North Korean missile
Pyongyang allegedly admitted to a nuclear programme
North Korea says the US has deliberately misrepresented a comment from Pyongyang in order to argue that the Stalinist state has a nuclear weapons programme.


We just explained our basic position that we are entitled to possess nuclear weapons

North Korean state television
State television KCBS reportedly said in a programme on Wednesday that Washington distorted a discussion between North Korean officials and US envoy James Kelly in October.

Mr Kelly has said he forced an admission from Pyongyang that it had a programme for producing highly enriched uranium - a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

That alleged admission has led the US and its allies to stop providing North Korea with fuel aid under a key nuclear deal, and has considerably heightened tension on the Korean peninsula.

'Right, not reality'

But KCBS, monitored in Seoul by South Korea's Yonhap news agency, insisted that Pyongyang had simply reiterated the country's right to possess nuclear weapons if the US broke the 1994 nuclear deal.

US envoy James Kelly
James Kelly: Extracted 'admission' last month

"We just explained our basic position that we are entitled to possess nuclear weapons if the United States violates their nuclear agreement and forces the country into a nuclear war," the programme reportedly said.

"However, Bush's administration made use of this to argue we are developing nuclear weapons. Such a fabrication will not be accepted," the programme said.

Mr Kelly has defended his version of events at the 3-5 October meeting in Pyongyang, which has already been questioned by some analysts and government officials in Seoul.

"I gave them (South Korean officials) the full fidelity version of what I was told in North Korea", he said at a regional forum in Mexico last month.

Accord still observed?

The KCBS programme went on to say that despite the current US "hostility" to North Korea, it was exercising its "utmost self-control and patience to carry out our duty".

It follows a comment by a senior North Korean official earlier this month that the nuclear accord was "hanging by a thread" but was not yet null and void, although the foreign ministry has subsequently blamed the US for collapsing the accord.

Under the 1994 deal, known as the Agreed Framework, Pyongyang agreed to freeze an earlier alleged plutonium programme in return for oil and two lightwater reactors.

Problem of wording

Confusion between what North Korea says it has and what it says it is entitled have to has already clouded the issue since Mr Kelly's meeting.

Earlier this month, the international community was alarmed by a North Korean radio report that appeared to publicly acknowledge for the first time that the country had nuclear weapons.

But South Korean officials subsequently said that the radio commentary could have been misheard.

That view was be backed up by a new transmission a few days later in which the wording of the key phrase was changed to say that North Korea was merely "entitled" to own nuclear weapons.


Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

22 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Oct 02 | Americas
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