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 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 08:46 GMT
N Korea rejects US threats
Children pin notes to a mural of Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang
The US hopes threats will bring Kim Jong-il back in line
North Korea has declared it will not give in to threats from the Bush administration that it faces economic isolation unless it abandons its nuclear programme.

It is the consistent stand of the government to settle the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula in a peaceful way

Rodong Sinmum
Official party newspaper
In a process it defined as "tailored containment", the United States said it would call on North Korea's neighbours and allies to cut economic ties, and would urge the United Nations to impose sanctions.

Bowing to US pressure would bring "humiliation, death, subordination and slavery", said Rodong Sinmum, the newspaper of North Korea's ruling party.

The daily insisted Pyongyang wanted a peaceful solution to the crisis, but said confrontation with the US was "inevitable, as long as they do not abandon the aggressive and predatory nature".

The dispute with the US was sparked by North Korea's alleged admission in October that it was resuming a nuclear programme, to which Washington responded with fuel sanctions.

'Complete defiance'

Pyongyang has since announced that it is reactivating the controversial Yongbyon reactor and a nuclear reprocessing plant, and has ordered the expulsion of the UN's nuclear observers.

1992 photo of the Yongbyon reactor
16 Oct: N Korea acknowledges secret nuclear programme, US announces
14 Nov: Fuel shipments to N Korea halted
12 Dec: N Korea threatens to reactivate Yongbyon plant
22 Dec: N Korea removes monitoring devices at Yongbyon reactor
26 Dec: UN says 1,000 fuel rods have been moved to the plant
27 Dec: N Korea says it will expel UN nuclear inspectors
The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Saturday declared North Korea to be in "complete defiance" of its international obligations

Its two monitors are to leave by Tuesday.

Following Pyongyang's latest moves, US officials said they would ask Japan, South Korea, China and Russia to isolate the country economically, and called for the UN to discuss the matter on 12 January.

A senior envoy from the United States is expected in Seoul within the next two weeks to co-ordinate Washington's policy towards the North with South Korea and Japan.

South Korea also plans to send envoys to two of the North's allies - Russia and China - "at the earliest possible date" in an attempt to persuade them to intervene.

The US has in addition raised the possibility of using its warships to intercept any North Korean weapons shipments to reduce the country's income from arms sales.

The BBC's Washington correspondent Tom Carver says that exerting economic and financial pressure is the only option open to the US at present, as military action has been ruled out for the time being.

He says the White House is hoping North Korea's neighbours will take similar steps if the situation deteriorates further.

Deal rejected

Pyongyang insists it has had to re-open the Yongbyon plant in order to meet its electricity needs after the US halted aid shipments of fuel oil.

Although North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993, a year later it struck a deal with the US to freeze its nuclear programme and give access to IAEA monitors in exchange for fuel and aid.

Observers suggest that Pyongyang has abandoned this deal in order to put pressure on the US to sign a non-aggression pact and to increase aid.

Washington has made it clear it will not open negotiations until the new programme has been stopped.

Yongbyon: Five-megawatt experimental nuclear power reactor and partially completed plutonium extraction facility. Activities at site frozen under 1994 Agreed Framework
Taechon: 200-MWt nuclear power reactor - construction halted under Agreed Framework
Pyongyang: Laboratory-scale "hot cells" that may have been used to extract small quantities of plutonium
Kumho: Two 1,000-MWt light water reactors being built under Agreed Framework

  The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"There is real alarm here at the rapid escalation of the dispute"
  Olivia Bosch, former UN weapons inspector
"Diplomacy is the best avenue forward in dealing with the North Korea situation"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

See also:

29 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
28 Dec 02 | Media reports
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