- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2002

SEOUL (AP) North Korea, under fire from the United States, Japan and South Korea for breaking its promise to give up nuclear weapons, said yesterday that it needed its weapons to fight the "U.S. imperialists."
The blast of vintage Cold War rhetoric from the isolated Stalinist state came one day after U.S., Japanese and South Korean leaders demanded North Korea stop trying to make fuel for atom bombs.
It was not clear whether the statement in North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper was a response to leaders from the three nations, who met during the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Mexico.
Another North Korean paper said yesterday that the Pyongyang government was willing to talk with the United States to allay fears about the nuclear weapons program, but only under certain conditions.
President Bush, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung demanded Saturday that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program "in a prompt and verifiable manner."
The statement said, "U.S. imperialism looks down upon those countries weak in military power, forces them to accept its brigandish demands and makes them a target of its military intervention and aggression."
"As a stick is the best to beat a wolf, so are arms to fight with the imperialists," said the paper. "It is essential to readily cope with the moves of the reactionaries all the time."
It also said that victory does not depend on weapons, but on "political and ideological readiness."
Meanwhile, North Korea's Minju Josun newspaper reiterated the North's willingness to talk about its nuclear weapons program if Washington promises not to invade and takes other conciliatory steps.
"If the U.S. gives legal assurances of nonaggression, including no use of nukes against [North Korea] through the nonaggression treaty, [North Korea] will be ready to clear the U.S. of its security concerns," said Minju Josun.
The two reports were carried by North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The North's appeal for a "nonaggression treaty" with the United States came as U.S. officials tried to muster international pressure on the communist state to drop its nuclear program.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Washington has no plans to open negotiations.
Earlier this month, North Korea admitted it had a secret program to manufacture weapons-grade uranium, violating a 1994 deal in which it gave up efforts to make atom bombs in exchange for fuel oil and two modern nuclear power plants.
The United States spends $100 billion annually on fuel oil for North Korea, while South Korea and Japan have agreed to pay about $4.5 billion for the power plants.
Both North Korea and the United States have declared the deal "nullified," though the Bush administration has not decided whether to keep sending shipments of fuel oil.

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