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 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 15:47 GMT
US rules out strike on N Korea
Children pin notes to a mural of Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang
The US hopes threats will bring Kim Jong-il back in line
The US secretary of state has said his country has no immediate plans to attack North Korea to force it to abandon its nuclear programme.

Colin Powell, US Secretary of State
We are keeping all of our options open and we are approaching this in a very deliberate way

Colin Powell
Colin Powell said Washington was not trying to create a crisis atmosphere by threatening Pyongyang, but warned that all options were being kept open.

The Bush administration has threatened the communist regime with economic isolation if it does not halt its nuclear plans, but North Korea has said it will not bow to US pressure.

North Korea has been declared in defiance of its international obligations by the UN's nuclear watchdog, whose inspectors have been ordered to leave the country.

Earlier this month, the North Koreans removed the UN seals and monitoring devices which had been installed at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor under a 1994 deal with the US.

Pyongyang is now reactivating the reactor - which experts say could be used to produce weapons - and a nuclear reprocessing plant.

New strategy

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned last week that America could fight two wars at the same time - against Iraq and North Korea.

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
But in a television interview on Sunday, Mr Powell said there were no plans for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.

He said his government was monitoring the situation carefully.

"We have months to watch this unfold, see what happens," he said.

On Saturday, Washington set out what it called a "tailored containment" approach to deal with the escalating crisis.

The new strategy would consist in isolating Pyongyang economically by asking North Korea's neighbours and allies to cut economic ties, and urging the UN to impose sanctions.

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.

Pyongyang has responded defiantly to American threats, saying that bowing to US pressure would bring "humiliation, death, subordination and slavery".

North Korea has said it wants a peaceful solution to the crisis, but that confrontation with the US is "inevitable, as long as they do not abandon the aggressive and predatory nature".

Electricity needs

Under a deal reached with the US in 1994, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear programme in exchange for fuel and aid.

But in November, Washington halted the fuel shipments because, it said, Pyongyang had admitted it was resuming its nuclear programme.

North Korea then unsealed the Yongbyon plant and began moving nuclear fuel rods there.

Pyongyang says it has had to reopen the plant to meet its electricity needs since it is no longer receiving fuel aid.

The two UN inspectors who monitored the reactor under the 1994 are due to leave the country on Tuesday.

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
"The US is preoccupied with Iraq and doesn't want another crisis"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

See also:

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