by CNN News –
UNITED NATIONS (September 30, 2003) — CNN — North Korea addressed the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to again blame its need for a nuclear weapons program on what it called the United States’ “hostile policy.”
Choe Su Hon, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, told the United Nations that his country’s “ultimate goal and initiative” is “de-nuclearizing the Korea Peninsula. The key to the solution,” Choe said, would be a fundamental change in S. policy toward his nation.
“Under the present circumstance, in which the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and the United States are leveling guns at each other, asking the other party to put down the guns first does not make any sense,” he said. “This can be construed only as an ulterior intention to disarm and kill the DPRK. Our demand is modest and simple. We just want both sides to drop guns simultaneously and co-exist peacefully.”
The United States has said North Korea is developing a nuclear weapons program that could endanger Asia, as well as US territory. Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency called for North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program and agree to international oversight.
“It was typical, no surprises, used to it,” a US diplomat told CNN in response to Choe’s address to the General Assembly.
In August, the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States took part in talks in a bid to ease tensions that have been escalating since October 2002, when US officials said North Korea acknowledged that it had a covert weapons program.
North Korea has long asserted that it was forced to build nuclear weapons because of the “hostile policy” of the United States. To support that argument, North Korea often points to President Bush’s labeling of the country, along with Iraq and Iran, as part of an “axis of evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address.
The North’s demands include a formal nonaggression treaty, but Washington says Pyongyang must first dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
In his address to the United Nations, Choe said North Korea “advanced proposals aimed at de-nuclearization” in the August talks, but he said the United States has made unreasonable demands.
“The result of the six-party talks has convinced us once again that the United States is seeking to disarm the DPRK by means of pressure, still pursuing the hostile policy of stifling the DPRK,” Choe said. “Since it has proven that the United States is only interested in turning the six-party talks into a ground for completely disarming and killing the DPRK by all means instead of co-existing peacefully with the DPRK, we have been driven not to maintain any interest in or expectation on such talks.”
North Korea has said that it will not participate in future talks, though during the meeting it was implied that it would.
The United States has said North Korea misrepresents its position in an attempt to gain international influence. Washington “made clear we do not seek to strangle North Korea,” the official said, adding that the US said the North “has a much better future without nuclear weapons.” A senior state department official said after the multinational meetings in August that the United States “made clear we do not seek to strangle North Korea.”
Choe said that after a US envoy visited North Korea in October 2002, the US policy toward North Korea changed markedly, from peaceful to aggressive. “The United States reversed black and white, alleging that the DPRK had admitted to have a secret nuclear weapons program. It also proceeded to unilaterally halt the supply of heavy fuel oil from November 2002 in violation of the DPRK-US Agreed Framework and eventually turned all the bilateral agreements into dead documents.”
“Agreed Framework” is a reference to the 1994 agreement under which North Korea said it would no longer seek to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for certain aid from the United States, Japan and South Korea.
Choe said there is peace on the peninsula because of North Korea’s “war deterrence” policy. “The deterrence of ours is not to attack anyone, but to serve as a self-defensive means to safeguard our sovereignty in all intents and purposes.”