- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Jan. 28 (UPI) — North Korea Tuesday upped the ante in its war of words with the United States, saying Washington was preparing for a full-scale war against Pyongyang and was digging its own "grave" in its confrontation over the Stalinist state's resumption of its nuclear program.

It said the U.S. Defense Department was examining plans that could lead to an all-out war against North Korea with South Korean help.

"The purpose of the war scenario to be carried out mainly by the U.S. Pacific Command and Strategic Command is to round off the preparations to strike the whole area of the DPRK all at once within a few hours after they received an order to invade it," said the North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency Tuesday.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK, is North Korea's official name.

KCNA said North Korea was "fully prepared" to deal with any U.S. attack and would respond with "the unlimited use of means," adding though Pyongyang desired a peaceful solution, "the situation on the Korean Peninsula is deteriorating so rapidly that an armed clash may break out."

The foreign policy conundrum in Asia erupted late last year when the United States said Pyongyang had acknowledged to U.S. diplomats it had violated the 1994 Framework Agreement with Washington to scrap North Korea's nuclear weapons program in return for economic assistance.

North Korea, Washington said, had begun a program to produce uranium-enriched nuclear material suitable for weapons soon after it signed the 1994 pact, which shuttered a nuclear reactor that produced plutonium, provided for nuclear inspections, and led to the sealing of spent fuel rods, from which the weapons-grade plutonium could be extracted.

The admission, which North Korea later denied, came after U.S. officials presented North Korea with intelligence evidence of the enrichment program during a visit to Pyongyang. Earlier this month, North Korea walked out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty after expelling international weapons inspectors. It also threatened to restart its missile-testing program.

North Korea said any imposition of economic sanctions against it would be considered war. Pyongyang wants a formal non-aggression pledge from Washington as well as direct talks and other concessions. U.S. officials have said, however, that any talks — whether direct or through third parties — would not be negotiations, but only discussions on how Pyongyang would go about dismantling its nuclear program.

North Korea maintains any dialogue must be bilateral despite Russian attempts to broker a deal.

"There is a saying about digging and falling into one's own grave," it said Tuesday in a broadcast on the Pyongyang Broadcasting Station. "This precisely describes the United States' situation today."

It said Washington wanted to disrupt Pyongyang's improved relations with South Korea and Japan.

"These (the reconciliatory measures) posed dangerous obstacles to the United States who hoped to drive us into the nuclear grave," it said.

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