SEOUL: North Korea vowed yesterday to resist all international demands on the communist state to allow nuclear inspections or agree to disarm, saying Iraq had made this mistake and was now paying the price.
“The DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) would have already met the same miserable fate as Iraq had it compromised its revolutionary principle and accepted the demand raised by the imperialists and its followers for ‘nuclear inspection' and disarmament,” the ruling party daily Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary.
Pyongyang's latest comments came as US commanders running the invasion of Iraq ordered a pause in a northward push towards Baghdad due to stiff resistance and short supplies.
On the divided Korean peninsula, meanwhile, American and South Korean forces allied against the North conducted field exercises involving mock battles and amphibious landings.
“The DPRK will increase its self-defensive capability and fully demonstrate its might under the uplifted banner of the army-based policy,” it said.
North Korea shocked the region five years ago when it fired a long-range ballistic missile over Japan, historically a foe of Korea. The North is currently deadlocked with the United States over Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons programme.
The latest crisis began in October when US officials said North Korea had admitted covertly working to develop nuclear arms.
Pyongyang insists any such programme is purely defensive in face of what it perceives as a US military threat to its very existence.
Over the past month, North Korea has intercepted a US spy plane in international airspace and test-fired two short-range missiles. A Japanese report said the North might soon test-fire a longer-range missile capable of hitting major Japanese cities.
Subsequent rapprochement efforts slowed to a trickle after US President George W. Bush took office the following year signalling a more hardline approach to North Korea.
He later bracketed the isolated Stalinist state together with Iraq and Iran in an “axis of evil”, accused of seeking to acquire and spread weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile in Washington, the United States on Friday rejected a call by the new South Korean government for a “bold” initiative to engage North Korea, on a par with former president Richard Nixon's epochal 1970s overtures to communist China.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-Kwan offered the suggestion before talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell on the simmering crisis touched off by the Stalinist state's drive for nuclear weapons.
But Powell said the Bush administration had already shelved what it described as a “bold” approach of measures to engage North Korea, until Pyongyang agrees to stand down its drive for nuclear weapons.
Yoon said he detected signs of future flexibility in the US approach to North Korea after a speech to a Washington think-tank but said what was needed was a diplomatic coup comparable to the US opening of Mao Zedong's China.
“In the early 1970s, the Nixon government took a bold diplomatic initiative with China,” Yoon said in a speech hosted by the School of Advanced International Studies.
“The same approach could be applied to North Korea.”
Later, Powell said that Yoon had presented him with an “interesting” “roadmap” for engaging Pyongyang – but said bold US steps would have to wait until after the nuclear crisis.
“Those kinds of ideas and options and the kind of ideas and options the minister mentioned in his speech this morning are on the table it seems to me, once we deal with the issue of nuclear proliferation, proliferation of weapons and some of the other activities that are ongoing with in North Korea,” he said. – Agencies
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