- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

SEOUL — North Korea demanded yesterday that the United States apologize for designating the communist state as an “outpost of tyranny” and threatened to resume long-range missile tests.

However, the North also held out the possibility of returning to nuclear disarmament talks if Washington agrees to coexist with the communist country.

North Korea declared on Feb. 10 that it had nuclear weapons and was boycotting six-nation talks aimed at ending its nuclear ambitions.

At the time, it cited Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s designation of North Korea as one of the “outposts of tyranny,” during her Senate confirmation in January.

The North said that statement, which it attributed to President Bush, was evidence that Washington has not abandoned its “hostile” policy toward North Korea since Mr. Bush called it part of an “axis of evil” with Iran and prewar Iraq.

“The U.S. should apologize for his above-said remarks and withdraw them, renounce its hostile policy aimed at a regime change in the DPRK and clarify its political willingness to coexist with the DPRK in peace and show it in practice,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a memorandum, using the acronym of the country’s formal name Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The United States rejected the conditions set by North Korea for returning to the stalled six-party talks and also dismissed its threat to resume long-range missile tests.

“It’s not appropriate to be setting requirements and conditions,” Evans Revere, principal assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Separately, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, “As far as threats to undertake tests or other military activity, that certainly is not helpful and doesn’t serve a useful purpose.”

The North Korean memorandum which was summarized in an English-language dispatch by the North’s official news agency, KCNA said North Korea “will go to the talks any time if the U.S. takes a trustworthy sincere attitude and moves to provide conditions and justification for the resumption of the six-party talks.”

The original Korean-language statement also said North Korea no longer felt bound by its 1999 moratorium on missile tests, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

North Korea announced its missile moratorium in September 1999 while it was negotiating nonproliferation terms with the administration of President Clinton.

“Dialogue between the United States and North Korea has been completely blocked since Bush took office in 2001,” Yonhap quoted the memorandum as saying. “As a result, we see no binding force on the missile moratorium.”

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