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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 June, 2004, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
N Korea defies G8 nuclear appeal
North Korean spent nuclear fuel rods in Yongbyon
New six-nation talks on the nuclear issue are due to start this week
North Korea has replied defiantly to a new international call to dismantle any nuclear weapons-related programmes.

State media criticised last week's statement by the G8 nations, saying the group was trying to spark another Iraq crisis by imposing nuclear inspections.

It said North Korea would be justified in strengthening its nuclear deterrent.

A new round of six-nation talks aimed at ending the standoff over the North's nuclear ambitions is set to resume in Beijing this week.

"We cannot but wake up to all those attempts to divide and devour our country like they did Iraq," said a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman.

Enriched uranium

The G8 backed Washington's demand that Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

The North Korean spokesman said "such a demand is, mysteriously, the same thing as they sought on Iraq, and this is ultimately to make another Iraq case", in North Korea.

The G8 call "only provides [North Korea] with enough justification to increase its nuclear deterrent force for self-defence with the help of a strong catalyst" the spokesman said.

North Korea has acknowledged a plutonium programme but has denied a uranium one.

Enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power stations, but if enriched further, it can also be used in weapons.

Washington wants North Korea to completely dismantle its nuclear programme, while Pyongyang has said in the past it will only do so in return for aid and security guarantees.

The two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States have met twice in Beijing - in August last year and in February - since the nuclear stand-off flared in October 2002.

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