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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 13:45 GMT
Korean media face nuclear crisis
DMZ on North-South Korean frontier
Relations are tense between North and South Korea
The media on the Korean peninsula are preoccupied with the North Korean nuclear issue, after the United Nations watchdog, the IAEA, referred the matter to the UN Security Council.

The nationalist South Korean newspaper Choson Ilbo criticises the South Korean government for handing the issue over to the Security Council, and accuses President-elect Roh Moo-hyun of appeasing the North by ruling out sanctions.

"The whole of the international community is abuzz with discussion about what to do, while Korea alone is in a bizarre state of tranquillity," it complains.

"Everyone in diplomacy knows that the best negotiation results are achieved when persuasion is accompanied by pressure," it says, calling on the government to back the United States policy of keeping all options open.

'A Second Iraq'

The moderate Chungang Ilbo newspaper expresses shock at President-elect Roh's allegedly hostile attitude to the US, and calls on him to show "profound discretion".

It says the only way to solve the crisis is through co-operation with the US.

The moderate Tong-a Ilbo calls on the North to understand its international isolation, as China voted to refer the matter to the Security Council and Russia and Cuba - the North's other traditional allies - abstained.

It urges the North to stop "constantly disregarding" international opinion, or face becoming a "second Iraq".
North Korean soldiers in Pyongyang
North Korean press were angry at the Security Council referral

The centre-left Hangyore, which is often sympathetic to the North, says previous Security Council interventions in the 1993-1994 North Korean nuclear crisis worsened the situation.

The paper calls for immediate US-North Korean talks, and says a statement of condemnation from the Security Council would only make Pyongyang feel under pressure.

The generally pro-government Taehan Maeil says the referral would not necessarily lead to immediate sanctions, and calls on neighbouring countries to "co-operate in creating an atmosphere for a diplomatic resolution".

Immediate sanctions mean the "situation will deteriorate uncontrollably", it says.

It urges the North to refrain from such "extreme measures" as reactivating its spent fuel rod reprocessing facilities.

'US Cat's Paw'

North Korea has responded furiously to the referral.

The state news agency KCNA says in its editorial that the International Atomic Energy Agency is a "US cat's paw", and has no hold over North Korea now Pyongyang has withdrawn from the non-proliferation pact.

"The IAEA interfered in the 'nuclear issue' of the DPRK (North Korea), ignorant of its status in which it withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," KCNA says, adding that the IAEA had thus "provoked public derision".

"This only proves once again that the IAEA is no more than a cat's paw of the US, and there are sufficient examples to prove this," it goes on.

KCNA says IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei liaised with US Secretary of State Colin Powell throughout the build-up to Wednesday's referral, and that the US authored the North Korean nuclear crisis.

The North called on the IAEA to redeem itself by referring the US itself to the Security Council "for violating the basic spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and all the agreements reached between the DPRK and the US, and sparking the present nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

14 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
13 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
19 Feb 03 | Country profiles
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