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U.S., China Say 'No Nukes' to North Koreans

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2003 – The North Korean government shouldn't feel threatened because the United States, China and other nations want the Korean peninsula to be nuclear- weapon-free, the top U.S. diplomat said here today.

North Korea, which is suspected of having one or two nuclear weapons, has "nothing to fear from de- nuclearization," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell remarked at the U.S. Asia-Pacific Council Symposium.

In fact, neighbors like South Korea and Japan, Powell noted, "stand willing to help" North Korea in addressing its chronic food shortages and weak economy.

However, the secretary of state insisted that part and parcel of any solution "has to be de-nuclearization of the [Korean] peninsula."

President Bush has opted to use multilateral diplomacy to peaceably solve the North Korea-nuke situation, Powell pointed out. Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia and China have also called for North Korea to give up any nuclear weapons it is suspected of possessing.

"All of them, with us, have made it absolutely clear to North Korea that [a] nuclearized [Korean] peninsula is unacceptable," Powell asserted.

"The Chinese," he continued, have underscored that point "rather clearly."

U.S.-North Korean relations have become increasingly strained since last fall, Powell noted, when U.S. officials found out the North Koreans were working on a secret, enriched-uranium nuclear weapons project in violation of a 1994 agreement. It is thought the North Koreans may already possess one or two nuclear weapons.

The United States is also concerned about North Korean development and exportation of long-range missile technology and related testing programs "that threaten the region," Powell pointed out.

The North Koreans are reportedly upset because President Bush included them on his "Axis of Evil" list of nations, along with Iran, and Iraq before Saddam Hussein was deposed. And, Powell noted, North Korea's state-run news media has been making warlike statements while accusing the United States of planning an attack.

The United States and North Korea's neighbors won't be intimidated "by bellicose statements or by threats or actions" to gain attention or coerce concessions, Powell pointed out. He cautioned that the North Koreans "would be very ill-advised to move in that direction."

United States, North Korean and Chinese officials have met in Beijing over the past two days, seeking a diplomatic solution to the impasse. Powell said he was "particularly impressed at China's willingness to play an active role in these discussions."

"The meetings are coming to a close now," Powell noted, adding that participants will assess what was said "and determine where we will go next."

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