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North Korea says U.S. forced its nuclear stance

'Hostile policy' emerged late last year, envoy says

Choe says U.S. policy towards North Korea changed markedly in Oct. 2002.
Choe says U.S. policy towards North Korea changed markedly in Oct. 2002.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- North Korea has again blamed its need for a nuclear weapons program on what it calls the United States' "hostile policy."

Choe Su Hon, North Korea's vice foreign minister, told the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday that his country's "ultimate goal and initiative" is "de-nuclearizing the Korea Peninsula."

"The key to the solution," Choe said, would be a fundamental change in U.S. policy toward his nation.

"Under the present circumstance, in which the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and the United States are leveling guns at each other, asking the other party to put down the guns first does not make any sense," he said.

"This can be construed only as an ulterior intention to disarm and kill the DPRK. Our demand is modest and simple. We just want both sides to drop guns simultaneously and co-exist peacefully."

North Korea also appeared to reject a proposed second round of six-way talks aimed at addressing the nuclear issue.

"The result of the six-party talks has convinced us once again that the United States is seeking to disarm the DPRK by means of pressure, still pursuing the hostile policy of stifling the DPRK," Choe said.

"Since it has proven that the United States is only interested in turning the six-party talks into a ground for completely disarming and killing the DPRK by all means instead of co-existing peacefully with the DPRK, we have been driven not to maintain any interest in or expectation on such talks."

But South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun remains confident a second round of talks will be held and that they will produce good results.

"I expect that the second round of talks will be held in due time and will produce good results," Roh told a military parade at Sungnam airbase outside Seoul on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

In a speech marking Armed Forces Day in South Korea, Roh also said the North "should not miss this good opportunity the international community and we have offered."

The United States has said North Korea is developing a nuclear weapons program that could endanger Asia, as well as U.S. territory.

Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency called for North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program and agree to international oversight.

"It was typical, no surprises, used to it," a U.S. diplomat told CNN in response to Choe's address.

In August, the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States took part in talks in a bid to ease tensions that have been escalating since October 2002, when U.S. officials said North Korea acknowledged that it had a covert weapons program.

North Korea has long asserted that it was forced to build nuclear weapons because of the "hostile policy" of the United States.

To support that argument, North Korea often points to U.S. President George W. Bush's labeling of the country, along with Iraq and Iran, as part of an "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address.

The North's demands include a formal non-aggression treaty, but Washington says Pyongyang must first dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

In his address to the United Nations, Choe said North Korea "advanced proposals aimed at de-nuclearization" in the August talks, but he said the United States has made unreasonable demands.

The United States has said North Korea misrepresents its position in an attempt to gain international influence.


Choe said that after a U.S. envoy visited North Korea in October 2002, the U.S. policy toward North Korea changed markedly, from peaceful to aggressive.

"The United States reversed black and white, alleging that the DPRK had admitted to have a secret nuclear weapons program. It also proceeded to unilaterally halt the supply of heavy fuel oil from November 2002 in violation of the DPRK-U.S. Agreed Framework and eventually turned all the bilateral agreements into dead documents," he said.

"Agreed Framework" is a reference to the 1994 agreement under which North Korea said it would no longer seek to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for certain aid from the United States, Japan and South Korea.

Choe said there was peace on the peninsula because of North Korea's "war deterrence" policy.

"The deterrence of ours is not to attack anyone, but to serve as a self-defensive means to safeguard our sovereignty in all intents and purposes."

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