Seoul (AFP) Oct 17, 2006
North Korea warned the world Tuesday against following the United States in trying to enforce new UN sanctions, calling the measures a "declaration of war" and stressing it was ready for battle. In one of the North's harshest statements in years, Pyongyang rejected the sanctions imposed after it tested a nuclear bomb last week and lashed out at both the United States and the UN Security Council.
The announcement, dismissed by South Korean and US officials in Seoul as nothing new, came on the same day as Japanese and US media reports that the reclusive communist state may be planning a second test.
It underlined North Korea's unwillingness to bow to international pressure, which had been mounting for months before the Council's vote Saturday to punish it for testing a nuclear weapon.
"The DPRK (North Korea) wants peace but is not afraid of war," a foreign ministry spokesman said in the statement.
"We will deliver merciless blows without hesitation to whoever tries to breach our sovereignty and right to survive under the excuse of carrying out the UN Security Council resolution."
North Korea has repeatedly said the threat of attack from the United States is the reason for its nuclear arsenal.
Tuesday's statement said Washington had "instigated" the resolution, which was approved and co-sponsored by all 15 Council countries, and that the Council had overlooked US "hostility" to the North.
"This is an immoral behaviour utterly devoid of impartiality," said the unnamed spokesman, quoted by the North's official KCNA news agency.
"The UNSC 'resolution', needless to say, cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war against the DPRK because it was based on the scenario of the US, keen to destroy the socialist system."
The statement warned the US it "would be well advised not to miscalculate."
"If the Bush group ... calculates that it can bring the DPRK to its knees through sanctions and pressure, pursuant to the already bankrupt hostile policy toward it, there would be nothing more ridiculous and foolish."
The statement came as Christopher Hill, the lead US negotiator on North Korea's nuclear programmes, arrived in South Korea for talks on firming up commitments to enforce the sanctions.
"I don't think it really contained anything new," Hill said, when asked his reaction. "Frankly I don't think it is particularly helpful to anybody, especially not helpful to North Korea."
"There are no surprises," said Chun Yung-Woo, Seoul's lead negotiator, before the talks with Hill and Russian negotiator Alexander Alexevev. He called it "the usual rhetoric that they have been using."
Hill also commented on reports of possible preparations for a second test.
"I think we would all regard a second test as a very belligerent answer on North Korea's part to the international community," he said. "I think the international community will respond very clearly to the DPRK on this."
The UN resolution calls on the North to give up all weapons of mass destruction, bans nations from sending heavy weapons or luxury goods to the North, and calls for a freeze on any of the North's weapons-related funds.
More controversially, it also allows for the inspection of cargo going in and out of North Korea.
Both China and South Korea, while insisting they back the sanctions, have indicated they do not want to be involved in intercepting North Korean ships -- a move they fear could make an already tense situation even worse.
Seoul reiterated Tuesday that sanctions should seek to pressure the North to resume negotiations and must not spark an armed clash.
Hill said the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was set up by the United States to intercept ships in a bid to stop the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, and would be expanded under the sanctions, was voluntary.
He is laying the groundwork for Thursday's visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will meet in Seoul with the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan.
earlier related report
It also reflects, they say, the North's fear that U.N. sanctions could topple the country's already tattered economy.
Over the weekend, the U.N. Security Council unanimously voted for a U.S.-drafted package of financial and weapons sanctions against North Korea, which carried out a nuclear test on Oct. 9 defying worldwide appeals and threats of punishment.
The resolution calls for all U.N. members to impose wide-ranging economic and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea -- from a prohibition on exports of luxury products for use by the North's ruling elite and a partial arms embargo to travel bans on officials involved in weapons development and financial moves to starve the country's military programs for cash.
In its first official response to the U.N. move, North Korea said it "vehemently" denounces and "totally refutes" the resolution, "a product of the U.S. hostile policy" toward the North.
The imposition of sanctions was "a declaration of war" and an undisguised move to "bring down" the North, Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, pledging to deal "merciless blows through strong actions" to whoever tries to "breach our sovereignty and right," said the statement carried by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency.
"The DPRK (North Korea) wants peace but is not afraid of war. It wants dialogue but is always ready for confrontation," it said.
North Korea also vowed it would not bow to outside pressure. "If the Bush group ... calculates it can bring the DPRK to its knees through sanctions and pressure, pursuant to the already bankrupt hostile policy toward it, there would be nothing more ridiculous and foolish than its behavior," the statement said.
"It is quite nonsensical to expect the DPRK to yield to the pressure and threat of someone at this time when it has become a nuclear weapons state," it said.
"The United States would be well advised not to miscalculate the DPRK," the statement said, noting the North "will closely follow the future U.S. attitude and take corresponding measures."
It also defended the nuclear test as a "great deed" that "greatly contributed to defending peace and stability not only on the Korean peninsula but in the rest of Northeast Asia, as it demonstrated a powerful deterrent for coping with the U.S. nuclear threat and blackmail and foiling its attempt to ignite a new war."
The nuclear test was "a legitimate exercise of its sovereign right to defend the sovereignty of the country."
Analysts in Seoul said the North's statement indicates Pyongyang will take further military steps unless the United States retreats from its "hostile" stance against the communist country.
They predict the North's next steps may include a second nuclear test to win global recognition that it is armed with nuclear weapons, or the test-launch of a ballistic missile which could be equipped with a nuclear warhead. Another possible measure is the extraction of plutonium to make more nuclear bombs, they say.
Fueling the concerns, South Korean officials said Tuesday there were signs the North may be preparing a second nuclear test which could bring the Korean peninsula into a deeper security crisis.
"The North's statement seemed aimed at sending a warning of further physical actions ahead of a planned Asian visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice," said Nam Sung-wook, a North Korea specialist at Korea University in Seoul.
Rice is to arrive in Seoul Thursday as part of a six-day visit that includes stops in Japan, South Korea, China and Russia. During the visit, Rice will "rally the support of our friends and allies" in the region in the punishment against North Korea.
Ahead of Rice's tour, the top U.S. nuclear envoy, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, flew to Seoul Tuesday to coordinate efforts to resolve tensions over North Korea's nuclear test.
Upon arriving in Seoul, Hill called on South Korea and China to form a united front against Pyongyang's nuclear ambition. "We need to work very hard with our partners and allies to implement the U.N. Security Council resolution," he told reporters.
Source: United Press International
Source: Agence France-Presse
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US Warns North Korea Against Second Nuclear Test
Washington (AFP) Oct 17, 2006
The United States on Tuesday warned North Korea not to conduct a second nuclear weapons test and dismissed its claim that UN sanctions imposed after a first test amounted to a declaration of war. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, bound for Asia and Russia to firm up support for enforcing those punitive measures, said a second test would "only deepen their isolation, which is pretty deep right now."
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