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North Korea threatens to scrap missile & nuclear accord withWashington

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March 4, 2001 

  

SEOUL- (AP) - North Korea reiterated on Saturday that it might scrap a moratorium on long-range missile tests and revive its nuclear program, which is suspected of fueling a nuclear weapons program.


A spokesman for the reclusive communist state's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of not holding up its end of a 1994 framework in which North Korea froze its nuclear facilities in return for two Western-designed reactors.


The reactor project has been plagued by delays, upsetting the North's Stalinist regime.


"Under this situation it is self-evident that it is difficult for the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea to unilaterally and indefinitely keep in force such measures as moratorium on the launch of satellites and missiles taken by it with good faith for DPRK-U.S. dialogue, to say nothing of the DPRK-U.S. agreed framework," the spokesman said.


His remarks were carried in English by the North's official foreign news outlet, KCNA. As usual, the spokesman was not identified.


North Korea issued the same warning on Feb. 21 in angry reaction to comments by senior Bush administration officials that they would review policy toward North Korea.


Both North and South Korea interpreted those remarks as an indication that Washington might take a tougher approach toward the North.


U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice responded to the threat in February by saying that development of missile technology in countries such as North Korea is one of the reasons the United States is considering a missile defense system.


"It is none other than the DPRK which is exposed to threat owing to the conservative hard-line stand expressed by the U.S. administration," the North said. "We have neither intention nor capacity to browbeat anyone."


Under the 1994 agreement with Washington, a U.S.-led consortium is building the two new reactors in the North at a cost of dlrs 4.6 billion. As part of the deal, Pyongyang suspended its own nuclear program, which Washington feared was being used to develop nuclear weapons.


But North Korea has been unhappy with the slow progress of construction. The reactors, originally to be completed by 2003, are several years behind schedule.


The North has blamed part of its acute electricity shortage on the delays and has demanded compensation.


North Korea also agreed to suspend missile tests in September 1999 as long as talks continued with Washington on resolving concerns over Pyongyang's missile program. In turn, the United States eased some sanctions.


Washington says that the United States will keep its promises under the agreed framework and expects North Korea to do likewise.


Some South Korean officials worry privately that a rekindled standoff between the United States and North Korea could jeopardize Seoul's efforts to engage the North.



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