N. Korea warns Security Council on nukes

Saturday, June 28, 2003

UNITED NATIONS -- North Korea sharply criticized the United States Friday in a letter warning the U.N. Security Council to take a neutral stance regarding Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

The five-page letter, submitted by North Korean Ambassador Pak Gil Yon, was peppered with fiery language accusing Washington of threatening his country and violating international treaties.

Tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world have escalated in recent months as the communist regime admitted nuclear weapons programs and threatened to sell the technology to others.

The United States, which has dubbed North Korea part of the "axis of evil" along with Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, has proposed the Security Council issue a statement denouncing North Korea's nuclear program.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, called on the Security Council not be influenced by the American position.

"The Security Council has an obligation to judge ... whether or not it would be justifiable for one member state of the United Nations to stifle another member state."

Still, North Korea wants bilateral talks with the United States following by a three-way meeting with the Chinese scheduled for April in Beijing.

The United States agreed earlier this month to move most of the 37,000 American troops in South Korea away from the demilitarized zone separating it from North Korea and may ask the Security Council to pass a resolution supporting efforts to intercept shipments of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons materials from North Korea or other countries.

The North Korean ambassador lashed out at both moves, calling the troop redeployment a violation of international law and suggested that the intercepts were designed to pressure Pyongyang.

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