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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 11:25 GMT
Transcript: North Korea interview
US soldiers watch North Korean soldier through binoculars in demilitarised zone
N Korea insists it has no intention of making nuclear weapons
North Korea's Foreign Ministry deputy director, Ri Pyong-gap, has told the BBC Today programme's Mike Thompson that any decision by the United States to send more troops to the region could lead the North to launch a pre-emptive attack on US forces.

Mr Ri: The situation is very tense.

A very dangerous situation has been created, where the sovereignty and security of our state have been severely endangered by the hostile policies of the United States towards North Korea.

If the United States steps their boots over the borderline, we'll take strong countermeasures

Ri Pyong-gap
The Bush administration called our country one of the axis of evils and they adopted their national policy that they will not recognise our system.

BBC: On the way to your office this morning I got caught up in what was apparently a full-scale air raid we heard from the streets of Pyongyang. Do you really believe that America would bomb the city now?

Mr Ri: The United States have taken the aircraft carrier and the ship on the east coast of our country.

They said also that they would bring another carrier which is moving around this area.

They brought 24 fighter planes. A B-52 was [flown] through South Korea - they've deployed them.

The real meaning is, they're going to invade our country by force.

BBC: What would you do if this build-up continues?

Mr Ri: The responses for this are very clear. If the United States steps their boots over the borderline, we'll take strong countermeasures.

A pre-emptive attack is not something only the United States can do. We can also do that, when it is a matter of life or death.

BBC: You would even consider launching a pre-emptive strike against American forces?

Mr Ri: "We are fully ready to have a conversation with the United States - at the same time, we are fully ready to have war with the United States.

BBC: But the Americans are acting in the way they are because they say you've broken an agreement to cease your nuclear programme and in fact there now seems some evidence that you're busy reprocessing plutonium that could be used for some type of nuclear design.

Mr Ri: We have no intention of making nuclear weapons. But our nuclear activities from the present situation are only for generating electricity for a peaceful purpose.

BBC: Why not simply let the inspectors back in and then they can confirm whether or not your country is or is not developing nuclear weapons?

Mr Ri: If they have no intention of a war on the Korean Peninsula, they should accept our proposition to sign the non-aggression treaty and they do not want to sign it.

In the United States, they published the fact that after Iraq, North Korea will be their next target... After Iraq they will make war with North Korea

Ri Pyong-gap

Your country has a good relationship with the Americans and also you have good relations with our people.

So maybe you can tell your government to persuade the United States to sign this treaty.

BBC: Do you fear that US forces may turn their full attention to your country once their current confrontation with Iraq is over?

Mr Ri: I already know that.

In the United States, they published the fact that after Iraq, North Korea will be their next target.

After Iraq they will make war with North Korea.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Gluck
"North Korea is deeply concerned about an attack from Washington"
Mike Thompson reports from Pyongyang
"They are saying they have every right to produce electricity"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

06 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
04 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
03 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
05 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
31 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
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