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3/20/03 - NORTH KOREA'S WEAPONS THREAT - 2003-03-21

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly told members of the U.S. Congress that Communist North Korea, known as the D-P-R-K, has a choice to make:

"Over the past ten years, Pyongyang has been in pursuit of two mutually exclusive goals. The first is nuclear weapons. The second is redefining its place in the world community by broadening its diplomatic and foreign economic relations. The D-P-R-K needs to accept that it cannot do both."

The current crisis is entirely of North Korea's making. North Korea undertook a covert program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons after agreeing to freeze its nuclear weapons program under the Agreed Framework. The covert program violates the Agreed Framework, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, North Korea's Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and North Korea's joint Declaration with South Korea on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

In recent weeks, North Korea has test-fired a new anti-ship cruise missile and threatened an unarmed U.S. aircraft operating in international airspace. As Assistant Secretary of State Kelly said:

"In the past several months, North Korea has initiated a number of provocations designed to blackmail the United States and to intimidate our friends and allies into pushing the United States into dialogue with the North -- giving the North what it wants, and on its terms."

But the U.S. and its friends and allies will not be blackmailed. Nor will the U.S. bribe North Korea to live up to its obligations. That is why other nations, particularly North Korea's neighbors, need to work with the U.S. to ensure that North Korea is not rewarded for its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons. The U.S. is now working on a multilateral approach to resolve the situation peacefully. As Assistant Secretary of State Kelly put it, North Korea "must understand that to choose the path of nuclear weapons will only guarantee further isolation and eventual decline, if not self-generated disaster."