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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 18:32 GMT
N Korea blames US for treaty withdrawal
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits Kaechon, west of Pyongyang
Kim Jong-il's decision has profound implications
North Korea has pointed a finger of blame at Washington over its decision to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Pak Gil-yon
The US wrecks peace and security on the Korean peninsula

North Korean ambassador Pak Gil-yon
Pyongyang's ambassador to the United Nations said the decision to scrap its commitment not to spread nuclear technology was a "product of the US hostile policy towards the DPRK [North Korea]".

But if the US dropped that approach, Pak Gil-yon said, his country would allow Washington to verify its claim that it is not producing nuclear weapons.

A White House spokesman said that the "ball was in North Korea's court" to defuse the crisis, adding that "bad behaviour" would not be rewarded.

But the UN has said North Korea must be given assurances that it would get something in return for good behaviour.

Pyongyang's withdrawal, announced on Friday, has unleashed a storm of international outrage, with US President George W Bush saying it was a "concern to the entire international community".

UN 'manipulated'

At a news conference at the UN, Mr Pak said the UN nuclear agency - the IAEA which had been inspecting his country's nuclear plants - was being manipulated by the US.

"The IAEA remains a spokesman for the United States and the NPT is being used as a tool for implementing the US hostile policy to the DPRK," he said.

"The US wrecks peace and security on the Korean peninsula," he said.

Mr Pak warned that any intervention by the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on North Korea would be seen as a declaration of war.

REDUCING THE NUCLEAR THREAT
The NPT treaty was ratified in 1970
Russia, the US, Britain, France and China are designated "nuclear armed states"
There are 187 signatories
India, Pakistan and Israel have not signed treaty
Mr Pak said the withdrawal from the treaty was an act of "self-defence" in the face of the US approach, as well as a response to the "unreasonable behaviour" of the IAEA.

He said the North did not intend to produce nuclear weapons, adding its nuclear activities were confined to "peaceful purposes" such as the production of electricity.

But, leaving the door open for negotiations, he said that if there was a change of tune from Washington, the North would be prepared to prove to the US - though not the UN - that it does not make nuclear weapons.

'Brinksmanship'

In a telephone conversation with President Jiang Zemin of China, President Bush "stressed that the US has no hostile intentions toward North Korea, and sought a peaceful, multilateral solution to the problem created by Pyongyang's action," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

CRISIS CHRONOLOGY
Satellite photo of the Yongbyon plant (AFP)
16 Oct: N Korea acknowledges secret nuclear programme, US says
14 Nov: Oil shipments to N Korea halted
22 Dec: N Korea removes monitoring devices at Yongbyon nuclear plant
26 Dec: UN says 1,000 fuel rods have been moved to the plant
31 Dec: UN nuclear inspectors leave North Korea
6 Jan: IAEA demands inspectors be readmitted and secret weapons programme halted
7 Jan: US "willing to talk" to North Korea
10 Jan: N Korea pulls out of nuclear treaty
President Jiang - North Korea's closest ally - "reiterated China's commitment to a non-nuclear Korean peninsula," the spokesman said.

The head of the IAEA, Mohammed El Baradei said the North Korean authorities have to show "that they are willing to sit and talk and negotiate without the threat of nuclear brinkmanship".

But he added: "We need to articulate what would be the next step if North Korea were to show good behaviour. They need to get some assurance as to what to expect in return for good behaviour".

The issue is now expected to dominate talks between Mr El Baradei, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice later on Friday.

Talks have also been going on between two North Korean diplomats and former US Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, which the American envoy described as "cordial but candid".

The meeting is not officially sponsored by the Bush administration but has its support.

'Life and death'

South Korea has urged its northern neighbour to reverse the decision, saying the withdrawal was a "matter of life and death" and one that could only be resolved through dialogue.

A joint statement from Japan and Russia, two crucial regional powers, also expressed "disappointment and profound concern" at North Korea's move.

International concern over North Korea's intentions has been growing since it expelled two United Nations inspectors last month, and re-activated some of its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon.


NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
Yongbyon: Five-megawatt experimental nuclear power reactor and a 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

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Richard Slee reports
"It says it has no intention of producing nuclear weapons"
  Coliin Powell and the IAEA's Mohamed El Baradei
Reaction to the North Korean decision
  North Korean Ambassador to the UN, Pak Gil Yon
"The IAEA is used as a tool for executing hostile US policy towards the DPRK"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

10 Jan 03 | Americas
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
07 Jan 03 | Media reports
09 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
08 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
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