Korea has Nuclear Weapons
February 10, 2005
Seoul, South Korea - North Korea has announced for the first time that
it has nuclear arms and rejected moves to restart disarmament talks anytime
soon, saying it needs the weapons as protection against an increasingly
hostile United States.
dramatically raised the stakes in the two-year-old nuclear confrontation
and posed a grave challenge to President Bush , who started his second
term with a vow to end North Korea's nuclear program through six-nation
"We ... have
manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's
ever more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the (North),"
the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run
Korean Central News Agency.
The claim could not be independently verified. North Korea expelled the
last U.N. nuclear monitors in late 2002 and has never tested a nuclear
bomb, although international officials have long suspected it has one
or two nuclear bombs and enough fuel for several more.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said North Korea should return to
disarmament talks and avoid a path toward further international isolation.
She said the world "has given them a way out and we hope they will
take that way out."
"The North Koreans have been told by the president of the United
States that the United States has no intention of attacking or invading
North Korea," Rice told a news conference in Luxembourg. "There
is a path for the North Koreans that would put them in a more reasonable
relationship with the rest of the world."
Previously, North Korea had reportedly told U.S. negotiators in private
talks that it had nuclear weapons and might test one of them. The North's
U.N. envoy said last year that the country had "weaponized"
plutonium from its pool of 8,000 nuclear spent fuel rods. Those rods contained
enough plutonium for several bombs.
North Korea's "nuclear weapons will remain (a) nuclear deterrent
for self-defense under any circumstances," the ministry said. It
said The United States alleged attempt to topple the North's regime "compels
us to take a measure to bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal in order to
protect the ideology, system, freedom and democracy chosen by its people."
the United States, North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia have
held three rounds of talks in Beijing aimed at persuading the North to
abandon nuclear weapons development in return for economic and diplomatic
rewards. No significant progress has been made.
A fourth round
scheduled for last September was canceled when North Korea refused to
attend, citing what it called a "hostile" U.S. policy.
said the North's decision to stay away from talks was "seriously
regrettable." Foreign Ministry spokesman Lee Kyu-hyung said "we
again declare our stance that we will never tolerate North Korea possessing
In recent weeks,
hopes had risen that North Korea might return to the six-nation talks,
especially after Bush refrained from any direct criticism of North Korea
when he started his second term last month.
said it decided not to rejoin such talks any time soon after studying
Bush's inaugural and State of the Union speeches and after Rice labeled
North Korea one of the "outposts of tyranny."
wanted the six-party talks but we are compelled to suspend our participation
in the talks for an indefinite period till we have recognized that there
is justification for us to attend the talks and there are ample conditions
and atmosphere to expect positive results from the talks," the ministry
Korea said it retained its "principled stand to solve the issue through
dialogue and negotiations and its ultimate goal to denuclearize the Korean
Peninsula remain unchanged."
Such a comment
has widely been interpreted as North Korea's negotiating tactic to get
more economic and diplomatic concessions from the United States before
joining any crucial talks.
A spokesman for
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that "North Korea
remains our single highest priority."
"We know they
have raw materials to build nuclear weapons. We also know that they have
a delivery system and they've expressed their intentions to have a nuclear
arsenal," spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said.
Japan's top government
spokesman said he wanted to confirm the North's intentions.
"They have used
this sort of phrasing every so often. They didn't say anything particularly
new," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a regular news
For months, North
Korea has lashed out at what it calls U.S. attempts to demolish the regime
of leader Kim Jong Il and meddle in the human rights situation in the
North. Washington has said it wants to resolve the nuclear talks through
In his second inaugural
speech, Bush vowed that his new administration would not shrink from "the
great objective of ending tyranny" around the globe.
In his State of the
Union address, Bush only mentioned North Korea once, saying Washington
was "working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea
to abandon its nuclear ambitions."
Bush's tone was in
stark contrast to three years ago, when he branded North Korea part of
an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq , raising hopes of
a positive response from North Korea.
The nuclear crisis
erupted in October 2002 when U.S. officials accused North Korea of running
a secret uranium-enrichment program in violation of international treaties.
Washington and its allies cut off free fuel oil shipments for the impoverished
country under a 1994 deal with the United States.
North Korea retaliated
by quitting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in early 2003 and restarting
its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program, which had been frozen under
the 1994 agreement.