North Korea Threatens To Take
'Countermeasures' Againt US

(AFP) - North Korea threatened to take unspecified countermeasures unless the United States changed its "hostile" policy toward the communist state.
A foreign ministry spokesman said Washington was now "unreasonably" demanding North Korea allow a foreign inspection of its suspected weapons of mass destruction after linking the state with terrorism.
"All facts indicate that the prospect of the negotiated settlement of the issue has, in fact, become gloomy," the spokesman was quoted as saying by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
"Under this situation the DPRK (North Korea) cannot sit idle but is left with no option but to take necessary counter-measures," he said, without specifying the measures.
He said "some forces in the United States" were only paying "lip-service" to a resumption of dialogue with North Korea without preconditions -- an offer made by President George W. Bush in June.
North Korea has yet to respond to the offer, which was submitted after a review of US policy toward the hermit nation ordered by Bush.
But US Ambassador to South Korea Thomas C. Hubbard reiterated the offer of dialogue with no strings attached.
"We continue to await a positive response to this open invitation," he said at a meeting with the Korean-American Association.
Bush this week called on North Korea to permit foreign inspectors to verify that it is not producing weapons of mass destruction, and warned Pyongyang to halt foreign missile sales.
Washington still lists North Korea as a nation sponsoring terrorism, another thorn in the side of relations.
"The DPRK has nothing to do with terrorism and has made every possible effort to combat it," the foreign ministry spokesman insisted.
North Korea condemned the September 11 terror attacks on the United States but has said it opposes the US-led retaliation in Afghanistan.
"It is quite nonsensical for the US to talk about cooperation with the DPRK in its anti-terrorism operation after labeling the DPRK as a 'sponsor of terrorism'," the spokesman said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has said Pyongyang would immediately normalize ties with Washington should the United States lift North Korea from its blacklist of states backing terrorism.
The spokesman criticized the US demand for an inspection of the suspected weapons of mass destruction while neglecting Pyongyang's demands for compensation over delays in the building of light-water reactors.
Much-delayed construction began in earnest only in September on two nuclear power reactors in North Korea that will produce less weapons-grade plutonium than the communist state's old reactors, which were closed under a 1994 accord.
The new reactors were originally to be built by 2003 but delays, including the withdrawal of half the North Korean workers over a wage dispute, have pushed back the finish until at least 2008.
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Dong-Shin meanwhile ruled out a US military strike on North Korea despite Washington's harder stance against the Stalinist country.
"The United States will not try to stage an independent war against North Korea," Kim told a parliamentary committee late Wednesday, citing close policy consultations between the allies.
Yonhap news agency in Seoul, the official monitor of North Korean news media, said the protests reflected Pyongyang's frustration over its lack of progress with the US in attempts to come out of decades of isolation.
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