- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2003

From combined dispatches

SEOUL — North Korea warned yesterday that any moves to discuss its suspected nuclear weapons programs at the United Nations would “hamstring” efforts for dialogue and be a “prelude to war.”

The government issued the warning a day after it agreed to multilateral talks to deal with the nuclear standoff. North Korea accuses the United Nations of siding with the United States to stifle the communist country, fearing that the U.N. would impose economic sanctions on the impoverished nation.

“Any move to discuss the nuclear issue at the U.N. Security Council is little short of a prelude to a war,” the official KCNA news agency said, reiterating similar comments made in the past.

On Thursday, Undersecretary of State John Bolton criticized the Security Council, saying its credibility was at stake because it had failed to take up the North Korean nuclear issue. China, the North’s closest ally and a permanent member of the Security Council, had thwarted previous U.S. attempts to have it condemn the North over its nuclear ambitions.

“The U.S. intention to bring up the nuclear issue … at the U.N. at any cost is a grave criminal act to hamstring” North Korea’s efforts for dialogue, KCNA said.

An early U.N. discussion of North Korea seems unlikely. South Korea, a U.S. ally, has said it would prefer that all other diplomatic options are exhausted before the Security Council takes up the issue.

North Korea agreed Friday to multilateral talks, outside the purview of the United Nations, saying it would push for direct talks with the United States within the multiparty conclave. The U.S. government said bilateral talks were a possibility.

The United States has long pushed for multilateral talks on the issue, saying the North’s nuclear threat is a regional issue. North Korea had insisted on one-on-one talks with the United States, through which it hopes to win a guarantee of security.

No date has been set for the talks, which are expected to be held in China.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency yesterday quoted an unidentified official at the South Korean presidential office as saying talks could open “late this month.”

But Pyongyang issued a new challenge early today, saying that it would not recognize Mr. Bolton as an official for any dialogue, calling him vulgar and insane.

Mr. Bolton earlier this week referred to life in North Korea as a “nightmare.”

“On the basis of a serious analysis of Bolton’s outcries in the light of his political vulgarity and psychopathological condition, as they are quite different from the recent remarks of the U.S. president, we have decided not to consider him as an official of the U.S. administration any longer nor to deal with him,” KCNA quoted a Pyongyang Ministry spokesman as saying.

Although the statement said North Korea would not deal with Mr. Bolton, it also said his presence would not alter the North’s decision to participate in the talks.

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