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. NKorea vows to bolster 'war deterrence'
SEOUL, Jan 4 (AFP) Jan 04, 2008
North Korea, which missed a year's end deadline to declare its nuclear programmes, vowed Friday to build its "war deterrence," accusing the United States of stepping up preparations for an attack.

Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the North's ruling Korean Workers' Party, also denounced as a trick a US statement last month that it was accelerating the scrapping of its own nuclear weapons stockpile.

"The DPRK (North Korea) people, seeing through to the criminal nature of US imperialists, has already been building up their defence capability," it said in a commentary.

"To cope with the mounting US nuclear war manoeuvres, the DPRK will further strengthen its own war deterrence."

It said the US announcement on scrapping its own weapons was nothing but a "trick" to fool the rest of the world.

"The criminal ploy led by US war mongers, who are bringing the world to the brink of a nuclear war by driving for the development and production of new atomic weapons, has not changed at all."

The commentary came as the US State Department said chief envoy Christopher Hill would arrive Monday in Tokyo at the start of a Asian tour which will also take him to Seoul, Beijing and Moscow.

The tour is focused on "how to move the six-party process forward," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

Hill made a rare visit to North Korea last month amid efforts to scrap the reclusive communist state's nuclear programmes under a deal involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.

However the Pyongyang regime missed a deadline to disable its atomic plants and declare all its nuclear programmes by the end of the year, and is in turn complaining of delays in getting the energy aid it was promised as part of the deal.

A suspected uranium enrichment programme -- the issue which in 2002 wrecked a previous disarmament deal -- is another key hurdle.

Washington says it has evidence Pyongyang imported material which could be used for such a programme, even if it is not up and running.

The North has never publicly admitted any such operation.

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