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Powell Says U.S., Allies Trying for Sense from North Korea

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2002 – North Korea's move to build nuclear weapons is "a matter of great concern" to the United States and that "all options are open," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Dec. 29.

Powell said the United States wants to ensure the international community recognizes that North Korea has violated the 1994 Agreed Framework that bans the country from building atomic weapons.

He said the United States is working with countries in the region to pressure North Korea to change its course. The secretary spoke on the issue during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Powell stated that the United States only learned about the extent of North Korean duplicity in the last six months. U.S. intelligence sources found that soon after the North Koreans agreed to cap the plutonium reactor at Yongbyon, they were developing an enriched uranium capability at another site.

U.S. State Department officials confronted North Korea with the proof in October. The North Koreans initially denied making nuclear weapons and then admitted to it. Since then, North Korea has announced it will restart the reactor at Yongbyon.

The North Korean actions are self-destructive and happen at a time when the rest of the world was willing to help the country, Powell said. "This is a country that's in desperate condition," he said. "What are they going to do with another two or three nuclear weapons when they're starving, when they have no energy, when they have no economy that's functioning?

"We now believe they have a couple of nuclear weapons and have had them for years," he continued. The new facility might produce more atomic weapons, but it "will not feed one more North Korean child, it will not light one more North Korean home."

The United States is looking for ways to communicate with the North Koreans so some sense can prevail, Powell said. "We are not planning a preemptive strike," he said. "The United States has a full range of capabilities -- political, economic, diplomatic, and yes, military. But we are not trying to create a crisis atmosphere at this point by threatening North Korea."

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Sec. Powell Interview on NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert

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