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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
N Korea changes tack on talks
Satellite image of North Korea's Yongbyon Nuclear Centre
North Korea says its nuclear weapons are defensive
North Korea has announced new preconditions for a resumption of stalled talks aimed at solving the controversy over its nuclear status.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the process should now become a forum in which all participants discussed nuclear disarmament on an equal basis.

Pyongyang withdrew indefinitely from the international talks in February.

The discussions had aimed to offer Pyongyang incentives in return for abandoning its uranium programme.

But the North Korean spokesman said that instead, all parties in the region should work to free it of nuclear weapons.

Now that the DPRK has become a full-fledged nuclear weapons state, the six-party talks should be disarmament talks where the participating countries negotiate the issue on an equal footing
North Korean foreign ministry
He repeated Pyongyang's assertion that it has only felt compelled to build its own arsenal because of the threat from the US.

"The US keeps many tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea on a permanent basis. And it is ceaselessly shipping nuclear strike means there," the spokesman said.

"The US claims that if the DPRK [North Korea] dismantles its nuclear weapons first, it will be given 'collective assurances for security' and get a 'benefit.' This is, however, nothing but a gangster-like logic urging the DPRK to disarm itself and yield to the US domination."

He added that the fact that Pyongyang now possessed nuclear weapons, rather than just the means to make them, should also change the talks' emphasis.

"Now that the DPRK has become a full-fledged nuclear weapons state, the six-party talks should be disarmament talks where the participating countries negotiate the issue on an equal footing," he said.

Since 2002, three rounds of discussions involving the US, Russia, the two Koreas, Japan and China have sought to ease tensions on the peninsula, with little success.

In February, North Korea said it was pulling out of the process, claiming it was furious that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had branded it an "outpost of tyranny".




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