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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 08:47 GMT
N Korea lashes out at US 'smears'
North Korea has lambasted the US for what it said was a campaign of disinformation to portray its regime as unstable.

The statement follows reports that portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had gone missing, and high-ranking generals had defected.

The North Korean statement said its political regime was "firm as a rock".

It had now been forced to reconsider its participation in talks on its nuclear weapons programme, it added.

The unusual and lengthy statement followed several reports which some analysts said could point to cracks in the facade of the world's most tightly controlled country.

Under this situation [North Korea] is compelled to seriously reconsider its participation in the talks with the US
North Korean statement
The latest reports, in US media, said an estimated 130 North Korean generals had defected to China in recent years.

"Quite contrary to what the US claimed, not even a button of a general officer's uniform, to say nothing of more than a hundred of general officers, has ever been found across the border," an unidentified spokesman for the foreign ministry said in the statement.

The statement said that there might be "illegal border trespassers" who could no longer live in North Korea because of their criminal activities, "but their number is so small that there is no need to take them into account".

It also denied, once again, that portraits of Kim Jong-il were disappearing from public places in Pyongyang.

The statement said this "misinformation", spread by "reptile media", was an attempt by the US to bring down North Korea, but that in fact, the country's administration was "as firm as a rock".

"The US false propaganda and psychological operation aimed to slander the DPRK [North Korea] and finally realise a regime change there have, in actuality, gone beyond the tolerance limit," it said.


It said the campaign was reminiscent of those conducted on the eve of US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The BBC's correspondent in Seoul, Charles Scanlon, says North Korea appears apprehensive that US President George Bush will be even more aggressive in his second term.

Our correspondent says Pyongyang is also seeking to capitalise on Chinese and South Korean disaffection with US policy regarding North Korea.

Since the US presidential election, some conservatives in Washington have stepped up their demands for regime change.

They cite widespread human rights abuses in North Korea and growing fears that the country is amassing a nuclear arsenal, already estimated at six or seven atomic bombs.

Beijing and Seoul stress that engaging North Korea in dialogue is the way to address the crisis. There have been three rounds of talks between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States in Beijing.

But these have now stalled after Pyongyang boycotted the last round in September.

The statement issued on Monday said that as a result of the latest reports of instability in North Korea, the country had been compelled to seriously reconsider its participation in the talks with the US, whom it described as "extremely disgusting and hateful".

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