- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

The Bush administration yesterday brushed aside any suggestion of a new deal with North Korea before Pyongyang agrees to honor commitments it has already made to stop making nuclear bombs.
Amid a flurry of diplomatic maneuvering over the nuclear standoff on the heavily armed Korean Peninsula, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States would reject any demand by North Korea for a nonaggression pact as a prerequisite for halting its nuclear program.
"We're not going to bargain or offer inducements to North Korea to live up to the treaties and agreements it has already signed," Mr. Boucher said. "We have no intention to … pay for this horse again."
North Korea in November acknowledged it had a secret program to enrich uranium, a critical step in the production of nuclear weapons, in violation of a 1994 deal negotiated by the Clinton administration. Under the accord, the North was to forgo its nuclear program in exchange for free fuel oil and help in building a civilian nuclear power plant.
The Bush administration has been trying to rally the North's neighbors, including South Korea, Japan, China and Russia, in a unified diplomatic front to force the North to back down. Top U.S. officials have said repeatedly they have no intention of taking military action against the North, but they reject negotiating any new security guarantees while the North continues to flout the 1994 deal.
In Beijing yesterday, North Korean Ambassador Choe Jin-su mixed threats with offers to negotiate, blaming the United States for the crisis but saying there was still time for the two sides to "sit down at the table" to forge a peaceful outcome.
Mr. Choe said at a news conference that Mr. Bush's hostile rhetoric including the listing of North Korea in his "axis of evil" triumvirate had "compelled" Pyongyang to restart its nuclear efforts, even though U.S. intelligence has concluded the North began trying to enrich uranium before Mr. Bush's January 2002 "axis of evil" speech. Iran and Iraq were the other nations named.
North Korea's nuclear efforts were a "matter of national dignity," he said.
He also lashed out at U.S. efforts to rally countries in the region against the North.
"The United States is now taking steps to create international pressure on us, but this maneuvering will make the issue more complicated and will not help resolve the issue," Mr. Choe said.
In South Korea, President-elect Roh Moo-hyun said through an aide that he was considering a diplomatic settlement to the impasse that would require sacrifices from both Pyongyang and Washington. South Korean officials describe the proposal as trading a less formal Washington declaration guaranteeing the North's security in exchange for a definitive end to the North's nuclear program.
South Korean diplomats visited Beijing this week and will be in Moscow over the weekend. South Korean and Japanese officials will be in Washington early next week, and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia James Kelly and State Department arms control chief John Bolton plan trips to the region in the coming days.
President Bush, addressing Army troops at Fort Hood in Texas yesterday, appealed for a coordinated diplomatic push against North Korea in a speech largely devoted to the threat from Iraq.
"Different circumstances require different strategies: from the pressure of diplomacy, to the prospect of force," Mr. Bush said. "In the case of North Korea, the world must continue to speak with one voice, to turn that regime away from its nuclear ambitions."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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