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NKorea says nuclear weapons 'self-defense', blasts US

AFP | September 26 2006

A top North Korean official told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that his country's nuclear arms were for "self-defense" as he accused Washington of using non-proliferation and terrorism as "a pretext" to invade sovereign states.
In a rare North Korean explanation on the international stage of its policy, Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon said the Stalinist state's "possession of deterrent power, solely for self-defense, is fully in line with the interests of the regional countries for peace and security."

He also reiterated that Pyongyang could not resume six-party talks on ending its nuclear program as long as it remains subject to US financial sanctions.

"The US adventurous military maneuvers such as military exercises and economic blockade against the DPRK (North Korea) continue to be tolerated, while the routine missile test fires of our army for self-defense have been picked up to be condemned as 'a threat to international peace and security'," Choe noted.

Pyongyang declared in February 2005 it had nuclear weapons, but there have been no reports of a test.

Last July, it defied international warnings and fired seven ballistic missiles, including its long-range Taepodong-2, believed to be capable of striking America's western seaboard.

The UN Security Council, including the North's only major ally, China, responded by unanimously adopting a resolution condemning its actions and imposing missile-related sanctions.

In 1998, North Korea had already caused international alarm by firing a long-range missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

In his speech, Choe also lambasted what he called Washington's "unilateralism and high-handed acts" that "are ever becoming so reckless as to trample down the principles on the respect for sovereign equality of all states, the fundamental basis of the UN Charter, thereby arousing a serious concern of the international society."

"Worse still are the invasions on sovereign states either openly committed or disregarded and even fanned up under the pretext of 'non-proliferation' and 'anti-terrorism', giving rise to a massacre of innocent people and the serious destruction of international peace and security," he added.

In September last year, Pyongyang joined the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan in signing a joint statement under which it pledged to abandon its nuclear program in return for energy and economic aid, eventual diplomatic benefits and security guarantees.

But two months later, North Korea boycotted the forum to protest US sanctions on a Macau bank which allegedly helped it pass counterfeit US dollars and launder funds.

Choe told the assembly Tuesday that Pyongyang would derive "a greater benefit from the implementation of the agreed provisions of the (six-party) talks.

"That is why it is willing to hold the talks more than any other countries," he added.

But he then went on to accuse Washington of scuttling the talks by "imposing financial sanctions upon the DPRK."

"It is quite preposterous that the DPRK, under the groundless US sanctions, takes part in the talks of discussing its own nuclear abandonment," Choe said. "This is (a) matter of principle intolerable of even the slightest concession."

Meanwhile, amid reports the reclusive regime could be planning its first nuclear bomb test, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview released Monday that time was running out to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

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