As Japan, the United States and South Korea meet in Tokyo to discuss setting
up a second round of international talks on halting North Korea's nuclear weapons
development, Pyongyang warns that it is already taking steps to increase it nuclear
North Korea is once again saying that it has no interest in further rounds
of six-party talks on its nuclear program, echoing comments made following
the first such round, which was held in Beijing in August and ended without
The north also says it is boosting its nuclear capabilities as a deterrent
against a possible attack by the United States. For weeks, Pyongyang, through
its Korean Central News Agency, has threatened to beef up nuclear weapons development
to ward off a possible U.S. strike.
A spokesman of the North Korean Foreign Ministry said that if Washington
pushed the north to give up its nuclear weapons program before guaranteeing
the isolated Stalinist state's security, it could lead to war.
The South Korean and American governments see such comments as a typical
North Korean negotiating tactic.
Pyongyang also called again for a non-aggression treaty from the United States
before it responds to international concerns about its nuclear program, a request
Washington has repeatedly rejected. The United States insists the north must
scrap its weapons programs first, but has also said it has no plans to attack
The north's latest commentary comes as the Bush administration's top negotiator
on North Korea, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, met for a second
day with officials from Japan and South Korea in Tokyo to discuss preparations
for a new round of six-country talks involving China, Russia, the two Koreas,
Japan and the United States.
The talks were held behind closed doors at a Tokyo hotel and officials did not
comment on the meeting's content.
Noriyuki Suzuki, a Japan-based North Korea expert, says he has high hopes
for the six-party process and noted that all participants agreed to work on
solving the conflict peacefully. He added that he is confident that the negotiation
process will eventually halt North Korea's nuclear activities.
Also Tuesday, the United States and South Korea commemorated the 50th anniversary
of their Mutual Defense Treaty, under which Washington stations 37,000 U.S.
troops in South Korea to help protect it in case the North launches an attack.
The American ambassador to South Korea, Thomas Hubbard, said in a speech
in Seoul on Tuesday that the United States and South Korea must continue to
be vigilant in the face of the North Korean security threat.
The nuclear crisis erupted nearly one year ago when the United States accused
North Korea of the reneging on a 1994 agreement by running a secret nuclear