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North Korea says US must scrap nuclear weapons first

AFP | June 23, 2005

North Korea said Thursday it would scrap its nuclear weapons only if the United States removed the nuclear threat to the Korean peninsual as a first step.

"If the Korean Peninsula is to be turned into a nuclear-free zone, a peace zone, the US nuclear threat to the DPRK (Noth Korea) must be eliminated, first of all," the North's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said.

"The prerequisite to the denuclearization is for the United States to discard its nuclear threat to the DPRK (North Korea) and switch over to peaceful coexistence."

Three months ago North Korea delcared itself a "fully-fledged" nuclear state and said that six-party talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons drive were no longer valid and should be replaced by disarmament talks.

The North Korean newspaper accused the United States of misleading public opinion by creating the impression that the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula meant North Korea immediately scrapping its nuclear program first.

"This is a quite ironical argument that can convince no one," it said, adding North Korea's consistent stand was to see an end to the US nuclear threat and realize a nuclear-free peninsula.

"There will be no change in its principled stand in the future, too," it said.

The commentary came a day after Pyongyang's top delegate to inter-Korean talks, Kwon Ho-Ung, said the country's ultimate goal was a nuclear-free peninsula and it would have no use for nuclear weapons if Washington was friendly.

North Korea's founding father Kim Il-Sung died in 1994, two years after an inter-Korean accord on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula came into effect.

Similar remarks were made by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il last week at talks with South Korean unification minister Chung Dong-Young in Pyongyang.

Kim Jong-Il also said his country could return to stalled nuclear disarmament talks as early as July if the United States "acknowledge and respect" Pyongyang as a dialogue partner.

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