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Last Updated:  Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 08:08 GMT
N Korea defiant over inspections

By Caroline Gluck
BBC correspondent, Seoul

North Korea has vowed to strengthen its military defences, saying it would fend off what it called the "miserable fate" that had befallen Iraq.

A commentary in the state-run newspaper of the ruling Korean Workers' Party, Rodong Sinmun, said that what was happening in Iraq was a result of concession and compromise.

The DPRK would have already met the same miserable fate as Iraq had it ...accepted the demand raised by the imperialists and its followers for "nuclear inspection" and disarmament
Rodong Sinmun
It pledged to resist international demands to dismantle its nuclear programme to end the current stand-off over its nuclear ambitions.

North Korea - named by Washington along with Iraq and Iran as part of an axis of evil - has been closely watching developments in the war with Iraq.

It has alleged that its own country could be the next military target of the United States - pointing to the ongoing annual joint military exercises between South Korean and US troops as proof that preparations are under way for a pre-emptive attack.

Military spending

Those allegations have been firmly rejected by officials in Seoul - but that has done little to convince the North.

Rodong Sinmun's commentary vowed to strengthen the country's military defences and its army-first policy.

Earlier this week, North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament approved an increase in the budget for military spending.

Despite its belligerent rhetoric, Pyongyang has continued to call for direct talks with Washington to resolve the five-month crisis over its nuclear programme.

The US has insisted any talks must be multilateral.

The BBC's Caroline Gluck
"It has alleged that its own country could be the next military target of the United States"

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