North won’t be recognized as a nuclear state: U.S.

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North won’t be recognized as a nuclear state: U.S.

The message from the United States hasn’t changed: North Korea will not be recognized as a nuclear weapons state.

In answer to North Korea’s demand late Wednesday that it wanted equal treatment as a nuclear weapons state, Washington again urged Pyongyang to return to the stalled six-party talks.

“We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-weapon state,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said yesterday, Korean time. “As we’ve said many, many times, if it meets its obligations, if it comes constructively back to the six-party process, then there are opportunities available to North Korea for a different relationship with the United States. But they cannot expect a different relationship until they take specific actions first.

“This is not a new request from North Korea,” Crowley said. “Look, the path available to North Korea is very clear. It continues to avoid what it knows it has to do. Its current path is a dead end. North Korea ultimately has no choice but to come forward and engage the international community.”

Late Wednesday, North Korea declared it would manufacture nuclear arms “as much as it deems necessary but will neither participate in nuclear arms race nor produce them more than it feels necessary.”

In a statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry, the reclusive communist state announced it “has a willingness to join the international efforts for nuclear nonproliferation and on nuclear material security on an equal footing with other nuclear weapons states.”

The United States and South Korea have long refused to recognize the North as a nuclear weapons state because it has withdrawn from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and South Korea, too, dismissed the North’s demand.

A South Korean Foreign Ministry official said Pyongyang seemed to suggest it wants nuclear arms race discussions with other nuclear powers such as the United States, China and Russia but “none of the three countries would agree to the setting.”

The Obama administration recently narrowed conditions under which it would deploy nuclear weapons but made an exception of “outlier states” North Korea and Iran. In response, North Korea said that the new U.S. nuclear policy has dampened the atmosphere for the resumption of the six-party talks, and threatened to bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal as a deterrent.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the North “has somewhere between one and six nuclear weapons.” South Korea later played down the notion that the United States was moving to recognize the North as a nuclear state, and said Clinton was only trying to emphasize the importance of international efforts to denuclearize North Korea.


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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