Peace Watch
December 25, 2002
Tough Talk From North Korea On X-Mess Day

I realize that the words "Peace On Earth" don't have the same ring to them this year. I know "peace" seems a million miles away sometimes these days, but we have to envision a time when there will be peace again. It will obviously take years to undo what has been done at this point to our international relations, but we have to try.

So with all that in mind, here's the most frightening thing I've seen in the news all week.

It looks like the North Koreans may have taken some of that 'Axis of Evil' stuff the Shrub has been babbling about a bit personally after all.

It just goes to show that if you treat someone like an enemy for long enough, they will become one.

North Korea Warns the U.S. to Negotiate or Risk 'Catastrophe'
By Howard French for the NY Times.

Here is the full text of the entire article in case the link goes bad:

The New York Times The New York Times International December 24, 2002

North Korea Warns the U.S. to Negotiate or Risk 'Catastrophe'

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 24 - North Korea warned today of an ``uncontrollable catastrophe'' unless the United States agreed to a negotiated solution to a standoff over its nuclear energy and weapons programs.

The statement came as a stiff pre-emptive rebuff to a conciliation-minded, newly elected president in South Korea, and as a warning to other countries that their efforts to mediate the crisis would be futile.

``There is no need for any third party to meddle in the nuclear issue on the peninsula,'' said North Korea's ruling-party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun.

Using the initials for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name, the newspaper asserted: ``The issue should be settled between the D.P.R.K. and the U.S., the parties responsible for it. If the U.S. persistently tries to internationalize the pending issue between the D.P.R.K. and the U.S. in a bid to flee from its responsibility, it will push the situation to an uncontrollable catastrophe.''

Going even further, the North Korean defense minister, Kim Il Chol, warned of ``merciless punishment'' to the United States if it pursued a confrontational approach.

``The U.S. hawks are arrogant enough to groundlessly claim that North Korea has pushed ahead with a `nuclear program,' bringing its hostile policy toward the D.P.R.K. to an extremely dangerous phase,'' the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted Mr. Kim as saying.

[In Washington, the State Department said it was following developments closely. ``Again, we urge North Korea not to restart any of its frozen nuclear facilities,'' the department said in a statement that reflected no change since it declared on Monday that there could be no negotiations while North Korea pursued a nuclear program, and that the United States ``will not give in to blackmail.''

[President Bush was said to be monitoring developments from the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., where he will spend Christmas with his family. The Associated Press reported that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was continuing to reach out to North Korea's neighbors, calling Japan's foreign minister, Yoriko Kawaguchi. Since Saturday, Mr. Powell has also conferred with leaders in Russia, China, South Korea, Britain and France.]

Some analysts here saw the defense minister's statement as a defiant response to comments by his American counterpart, Donald H. Rumsfeld, who said on Monday that the United States had enough military power in reserve to prevail over North Korea in the event a conflict with the country should occur in the midst of a war with Iraq.

``We're capable of winning decisively in one and swiftly defeating in the case of the other, and let there be no doubt about it,'' Mr. Rumsfeld said.

The North's comments come as Pyongyang accelerates its takeover of nuclear fuel and reactors that were placed under international surveillance by a 1994 agreement with the United States following a crisis remarkably similar to the current one.

Today, South Korean officials said that North Korea had begun taking steps to reactivate a five-megawatt nuclear reactor that had been mothballed under the eight-year-old agreement, the so-called Agreed Framework. North Korea has completed the removal of the last International Atomic Energy Agency seals and the disabling of surveillance cameras at a fuel fabrication plant in Yongbyon, South Korean officials said Tuesday.

The facility is technically known as a research reactor, but all along, Western arms control experts have said that its true purpose of the plant is to produce plutonium for North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

``There are varying estimates on how long it would take them to reprocess the spent fuel, but they probably have plans to do it a lot faster than outsiders imagine - and will do so if their equipment works,'' said an American official who has studied North Korea's nuclear programs for years. ``Here are a few of the ugly signposts we might whiz pass: asking the inspectors to leave, starting up the reprocessing line, finalizing their withdrawal from the Nonproliferation Treaty, and declaring themselves a nuclear power - with a ``Korean bomb'' intended to protect the whole of the Korean people by keeping the Americans from starting a war.''

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Posted by Lisa at December 25, 2002 11:41 AM | TrackBack
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