Tuesday, July 04, 2006

US Shrugs Off North Korea's Nuclear Strike Threat

The White House has dismissed North Korea's threat of a nuclear strike in the event of a US attack as "deeply hypothetical" and urged Pyongyang to rejoin nuclear negotiations. North Korea vowed yesterday to counter any strike by the United States with its "mighty nuclear deterrent", accusing Washington of raising tension on the Korean peninsula. "It is a statement about what may happen if something that hasn't happened, happened, if you follow my drift. It is still deeply hypothetical," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. North Korea has since November boycotted six-nation talks on ending its atomic drive, saying it will only come back to the table after the US lifts financial sanctions. "The strong preference of the United States and the other parties to the six-party talks, other than North Korea, is for North Korea to rejoin the talks, to sit down at the table," said Mr Snow. The negotiations involve the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, the United States and China.
Echoing the White House's stance, the State Department said the United States had no plans to launch an attack on North Korea. "As the President and the Secretary (of State) have made clear, the United States has no intention of invading or attacking North Korea," said Julie Reside, a State Department spokeswoman. In a joint declaration brokered in September 2005, North Korea agreed in principle to end its atomic weapons program in return for security and diplomatic guarantees and critical energy aid. The six-party talks were suspended last November when Washington rejected Pyongyang's demand for the removal of US sanctions imposed on a Macao-based bank for allegedly distributing counterfeit US dollars and laundering money for the Stalinist state.