- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

A day after North Korea rejected a call from President Bush to allow weapons inspectors into the country, the United States yesterday urged Pyongyang to start cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "now."
The State Department said a nuclear power plant in the Stalinist country cannot be completed unless there are "safeguards in place at certain stages in the construction."
"In order to keep the construction on schedule, they have to have those verification procedures in place," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday. "You have to start early. It's not a matter of showing up the day before the containment vessel arrives; it's a matter of working over a period of something like three years."
Although North Korea has made a commitment to cooperate with the IAEA, Mr. Boucher said it should do more to implement the agreement and allow access to weapons inspectors.
On Thursday, North Korea rejected Mr. Bush's Monday demand and threatened to take unspecified "necessary countermeasures."
The North Korean Foreign Ministry, in a statement carried on state-run Korea Central News Agency, also dismissed as "quite nonsensical" U.S. statements urging the communist state to do more to cooperate in measures against terrorism.
"The U.S. is unreasonably demanding the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) receive an 'inspection' just as a thief turns on the master with a club," said the statement.
It also said U.S. calls for arms inspections and criticism of North Korean human rights abuses and religious restrictions "goes to prove that some forces in the United States, in fact, do not want the dialogue for the solution of the problems."
Earlier this month, North Korea, eager to get off a U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism, signed two U.N. treaties designed to stem terrorism.
North Korea's representative to the United Nations, Ri Hyong Chol, signed the treaties on Nov. 12, Kwon Sei-young, a director at the Special Policy Bureau in South Korea's Foreign Ministry, was quoted by wire reports as saying.
Soon after signing the treaties Mr. Ri was replaced by another diplomat, Park Kil Yon, as the North's U.N. mission chief.
North Korea said earlier this month that it would sign the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the 1979 treaty against hostage-taking.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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