North Korea Hits Out At
US Nuclear Arms Review


SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said Wednesday it would react strongly to a nuclear arms review that U.S. newspapers say includes contingency plans for using atomic weapons against seven countries including the communist North.
In Pyongyang's first response to the review, the official KCNA news agency said Washington would be "grossly mistaken" if it tried to attack North Korea with nuclear weapons.
"The DPRK will not remain a passive onlooker to the Bush administration's inclusion of the DPRK in the seven countries, targets of U.S. nuclear attack, but take a strong countermeasure against it," it said.
DPRK is the acronym for the country's official title -- the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
North Korea, which has a track record of rhetorical brinkmanship, did not spell out what form the countermeasure might take.
"If the U.S. intends to mount a nuclear attack on any part of the DPRK just as it did on Hiroshima, it is grossly mistaken," KCNA said, referring to one of two Japanese cities hit by U.S. atomic bombs at the end of World War Two.
"A nuclear war to be imposed by the U.S. nuclear fanatics upon the DPRK would mean their ruin in nuclear disaster."
The news agency, with trademark ambiguity, did not make clear in English or the original Korean whether it was implying North Korea had nuclear weapons to strike back or whether an attack on the North would cause untold damage to the South, where 37,000 U.S. troops are based.
Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons program brought it to the brink of conflict with Washington in 1994, before a diplomatic deal was struck to freeze the program in exchange for oil supplies and Western-built nuclear reactors.
The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times reported last weekend the Pentagon had conducted a secret nuclear posture review that raised the possibility of developing new types of nuclear arms and described contingency plans for using them against Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and North Korea.
Senior U.S. officials have sought to play down the reports about the policy review, saying it is simple prudent planning by Pentagon strategists.
Russia and China have expressed concern about the reports.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov met President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington Tuesday to discuss nuclear arms and seek more details on the review.
Pyongyang was already smarting from Bush's description of the North as part of an "axis of evil," along with Iraq and Iran, for developing weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea said the latest reports indicated the Bush administration was "working in real earnest to prepare a dangerous nuclear war to bring nuclear disasters to our planet and humankind.
"The U.S. nuclear war scenario is an inhuman plan to spark a global nuclear arms race and bring the political and military situation in the world including the Korean peninsula to an extreme pitch of tension."

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