- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 10 (UPI) — North Korea's U.N. ambassador, following an announcement Friday North Korea was pulling out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, said that if the Security Council were to impose sanctions because of its action, it would be "a declaration of war" against Pyongyang.

However, in a letter officially notifying the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency, North Korea vowed, "It has no intention to produce nuclear weapons and accordingly, our nuclear activities at present stage will be confined to peaceful purposes such as generating electricity."

Pak told reporters his nation intended to meet its demand for electricity "in the very near future."

Ambassador Pak Gil Yon of North Korea met with reporters at U.N. headquarters after Ri Je Son, director general of the North Korean Department of Atomic Energy, sent a letter to Mohammed ElBaradei, IAEA director general.

Pak delivered a copy of the letter to Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere of France, this month's rotating president of the Security Council, who said he passed it on to the other 14 council members. De La Sabliere expected it to be discussed early next week.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin called for a council session on the action.

"We consider even now any kind of economic sanctions to be taken by the Security Council of the United Nations against the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) as a declaration of war," North Korea's U.N. ambassador told reporters, in an unusual move for his nation — a news conference. He said what kind of action it might take "will depend on the circumstances."

Added Pak, "I cannot predict anything." He said "future developments" would determine if North Korea were to build nuclear weapons. Asked if it already had nuclear arms, Pak declined comment.

He called the IAEA "a tool" of the United States and would only negotiate with Washington rather than the nuclear agency.

First Secretary Jon Yong Ryong of the DPRK Mission to the United Nations told United Press International that Ambassador Han Song Ryol, North Korea's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, and "his assistant" were in Santa Fe for meetings "at the invitation" of the newly elected governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, formerly U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under then-President Bill Clinton.

However, Jon but did not know their schedule nor how long they would be in New Mexico.

Pak said North Korea wants a non-aggression treaty with the United States and that the U.S. decision to talk but not negotiate was "not a sincere attitude."

He referred to a statement issued in Pyongyang that said, "If the United States drops its hostile policy and stops its nuclear threat to the DPRK, the DPRK may prove through a separate verification between the DPRK and the U.S. that it does not make any nuclear weapons."

Later, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte read a statement to reporters outside the Security Council chamber in reaction to Pyongyang's move.

"The United States condemns this action by North Korea," he said. "It is not totally unexpected. North Korea has shown its disdain for the treaty for many years. It represents a further escalation of North Korea's defiance of the international consensus in support of a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons and a serious challenge to the international non-proliferation regime.

"We reject North Korea's claims that actions by the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency justify its actions," Negroponte said. "North Korea has been in violation of the non-proliferation treaty for many years. Today's announcement is another step in its confrontational approach to the international community, and flies in the face of persistent calls on North Korea to comply with its obligations. We call on North Korea to reverse this and other recent steps. We seek a peaceful resolution to our differences with the DPRK."

He did not take questions on the subject.

Earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed regret over North Korea's decision to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and, according to a spokesman, "strongly urges reconsideration of this decision."

"The NPT is the linchpin of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime and with 188 states parties is the most widely subscribed to multilateral treaty in this area," the spokesman said. "No state party to the NPT has ever withdrawn from the treaty in the 33 years since its entry into force."

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