by Reuters –
SEOUL (December 20, 2003) — North Korea condemned a US decision to step up nuclear weapons research as a grave challenge to world peace and said such moves only compelled the communist state to strengthen deterrent forces to cope with any attack.
The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Saturday that President Bush’s administration had decided to spend $401.3 billion on national defense in 2004, of which $15 million was allocated for developing smaller nuclear weapons.
”The Bush administration adopted it as its policy to mount preemptive nuclear attacks on certain countries after coming to power,” the ruling party newspaper said in a commentary, which was carried by the
North’s official KCNA news agency. “It is no secret that it designated the DPRK and six other countries as targets of its preemptive nuclear attacks,” it added, using the initials of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, communist North Korea’s official name.
”The US imperialists’ moves to develop smaller nukes only compel the DPRK to beef up its deterrent force to cope with the nuclear attacks of the U.S,” it said, denouncing the move as “a grave challenge to the human cause of peace.” KCNA did not say which other six countries had been selected as targets, but it quoted Rodong Sinmun as adding:
”No one is entitled to fault the DPRK as it is a legitimate right for it to maintain and strengthen a nuclear deterrent force as a means for self-defense to cope with the US policy to stifle the DPRK with nukes.”
Chinese and US officials met in Beijing on Friday to discuss a second round of six-way talks to curtail North Korea’s nuclear arms program. The timing of the talks, which will follow an inconclusive first round in August, remains uncertain.