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NK 'ready to unveil N-deterrence'

From CNN Correspondent Sohn Jie-Ae

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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea is prepared to "physically unveil" its "nuclear deterrence" if the United States continues to press the Communist regime over its nuclear program, according to a report from Pyongyang's official news agency.

"When the time comes, we will move to physically unveil our nuclear deterrence, and, at the same time, the need for such international controversy will not exist," KCNA quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying Thursday.

The spokesman also was quoted as saying that if the Bush administration keeps up its pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, the Pyongyang regime will have "no other choice to but to keep up with nuclear deterrence as a countermeasure."

South Korea's official news agency Yonhap, which monitors North Korean media and carried details of the KCNA report, said the announcement was in line with North Korea's strategy of trying to pressure the United States to return to the negotiating table.

North Korea has repeatedly blamed its need for a nuclear weapons program on what it calls the United States' "hostile policy" towards Pyongyang.

The reclusive state claimed last week it had reprocessed 8,000 fuel rods from its Yongbyon nuclear reactor -- fuel that could be used in nuclear weapons -- to boost its deterrents in response to U.S. threats.

But U.S. officials doubt the claim, saying there was no evidence to confirm the move.

Washington, which has called North Korea part of an "axis of an evil" along with Iran and Iraq, has been pressing for Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

However, North Korea says it will not give up its weapons program until it has a guarantee the U.S. will not attack.

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