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DPRK says to add nuclear forces if talks delayed
( 2003-12-15 15:26) (Agencies)

North Korea threatened on Monday to add to its nuclear arsenal if talks with the United States and its allies were delayed.

It also said Washington was "wasting time" by rejecting Pyongyang's offer to freeze its nuclear arms program.

China weighed in on the side of its old ally, urging the United States to be more flexible in the next round of six-party talks aimed at ending the North Korean nuclear crisis, Xinhua news agency reported.

North Korea's ruling party newspaper criticized Washington for rejecting the North's proposal last week for a "simultaneous package solution" under which Pyongyang would freeze its nuclear program in exchange for energy aid.

"The U.S. wasting time would do the DPRK nothing bad," said the Rodong Sinmun. "Its delaying tactics would only result in compelling the DPRK to steadily increase its nuclear deterrent force," said the newspaper in a report published by the official KCNA news agency.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

Despite a flurry of shuttle diplomacy, expectations that North Korea would join South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia in talks on the nuclear crisis this month have given way to plans to convene the meeting in January.


Last week, South Korea, the United States and Japan conveyed to China their proposed wording for a resolution to end the 14-month-old crisis, under which the two sides would set up a step-by-step process. China then passed it on to DPRK.

Pyongyang, apparently responding to media reports about elements of that U.S.-led plan, pronounced it "greatly disappointing" and published a counter-proposal that repeated demands for energy aid and diplomatic concessions in exchange for freezing its nuclear program.

The Rodong Sinmun appeared to elaborate on the nuclear freeze proposal North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued on December 9.

"If the U.S. fully accepts the DPRK-proposed simultaneous package solution, though belatedly, the DPRK is ready to respond to it with the elimination of all its nuclear weapons," it said.

The United States rejected the call for simultaneous actions, because it says the onus is on North Korea to disarm after violating a 1994 nuclear freeze agreement with a covert program that was uncovered last year.

The North Korean commentary also turned the tables on Washington's demand for a verifiable and irreversible end to Pyongyang's nuclear program.

"As the U.S. urges the DPRK to dismantle its nuclear weapons completely, verifiably and irreversibly, the latter has the same right to demand the U.S., the dialogue partner, give it complete, verifiable and irreversible security assurances," it said.

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