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N Korean Military Seeks Tougher Stance

Seoul (UPI) Nov 30, 2005
North Korea has threatened to cut off inter-Korean military ties, accusing South Korea of allowing U.S. troops to enter border areas managed by the two Koreas and used for exchanges and tourism.

Pyongyang's warning reflects the North Korean military's toughening stance in the face of growing U.S. pressure over its nuclear weapons drive and human rights record, South Korean officials said.

In a statement, the North Korean military office in South-North military dialogue said U.S. military personnel entered special areas near the Military Demarcation Line.

The U.S. military presence in the border "could raise tension and increase the chances of a confrontation" on the Korean peninsula, which remains technically in a state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, said the statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency late Tuesday.

"A total of 180 soldiers from the United States entered the joint administration in October and November without prior notice," the statement said.

The U.S. soldiers were "watching vehicles moving, photographing areas of the north side and jesting (North Korean) guard personnel on duty by finger and body languages," the statement said.

"This has created disturbing developments which may escalate confrontation and tension in the above-said areas," it said. The U.S. move "interferes in and hamstrings" inter-Korean cooperation and exchanges, the statement said.

North Korea also criticized South Korea for neglecting the U.S. military presence in the border area in violation of the inter-Korean military agreement, saying the tacit approval of South Korean military authorities has led to the U.S. "provocation."

South Korea went "little short of reducing the agreements calling for a military guarantee already concluded between the north and the south to dead ones," the statement said.

"This servile attitude compels the north side to ponder over whether it can sit with the South Korean military to handle such important issues as halting the military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula in the future," it said.

The North warned South Korea's "servile" attitude to the United States would put inter-Korean military relations in jeopardy.

The two Koreas created joint administration areas in July 2002 through which they have built two cross-border roads and railway tracks, part of rapprochement efforts to facilitate the overland exchanges of personnel and material between the two countries over the heavily fortified demilitarized zone.

Under the 1953 armistice, the U.S.-led United Nations Command has direct control over the southern part of the 155-mile-long DMZ, a buffer area created at the end of the Korean War to keep opposing armies apart and avoid accidental clashes.

But under a military accord in December 2003, North and South Korea are required to inform the other when they are entering the joint administration areas within 100 meters of the MDL.

Inter-Korean economic ties improved significantly after their 2000 summit, but the rivals have yet to come up with any substantial measures to reduce military tensions on the world's last Cold War frontier with nearly 2 million troops on both sides.

Militaries from the two Koreas recently agreed to set up a joint fishery zone alongside the maritime border to avoid accidental clashes and dismantle remaining propaganda facilities along the border.

The two Koreas held their first defense ministers' talks in September 2000, but they failed to open a second round of talks because North Korea dismissed Seoul's repeated proposals for another meeting.

South Korea has called for regular high-level military talks to discuss ways to reduce tensions across the border, but the North's military hard-liners remain reluctant to join talks.

According to South Korean officials, the North's military has called for the Pyongyang regime to take tougher measures to cope with U.S. pressure over the nuclear standoff.

The United States has stepped up pressure on North Korea over the its nuclear weapons drive, human rights violations, counterfeiting and drug trafficking.

North Korea and the United States recently agreed to hold separate talks on Washington's financial sanctions and accusations of currency counterfeiting and money laundering.

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Iranian FM Denounces Nuclear Apartheid
Paris (AFP) Nov 30, 2005
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused Western powers of imposing a form of "nuclear apartheid" by denying Tehran the right to nuclear technology, in a French newspaper column published Wednesday.

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