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U.S. dismay at N. Korea nuke rebuff

The White House says diplomacy is the best course for dealing with North Korea's nuclear program

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1994 agreement
North Korea promised to give up its nuclear weapons program and allow inspections to verify that it did not have the material such weapons would require. The country has yet to allow the inspections.
N. Korea nuclear facts
  • North Korea launched a medium-range "test" missile over Japan in 1998.
  • The 1994 Agreed Framework was signed by North Korea with the Clinton administration.
  • In return, an international consortium is building new nuclear reactors in North Korea.
  • WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House says North Korea's refusal to let weapons inspectors into its nuclear facilities is "disappointing."

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on North Korea last week to open its doors to inspections, after saying it viewed Pyongyang's efforts to develop a nuclear program with "extreme concern."

    But North Korea says the agency was bowing to the United States, calling the demand "extremely unilateral."

    Despite the setback, the White House says it will keep working with allies to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program.

    Last month, Pyongyang admitted it had a clandestine program, in violation of a 1994 deal, but it has not said whether it has a nuclear weapon.

    The pact had called for North Korea to freeze an earlier nuclear program in exchange for the United States' promise to provide fuel oil and build two safer nuclear reactors.


    The North's admission came as the Bush administration was preparing for a possible military confrontation with Iraq over its weapons programs.

    Questions have been raised about why the administration is treating the North Korean situation differently.

    White House spokesman Ari Fleischer responded by saying "different solutions work differently in different regions."

    U.S. President George W. Bush believes diplomacy will be more effective in dealing with North Korea, he added.

    "Iraq, of course, does have a history that North Korea does not have of engaging in war against its neighbors, in resorting to the deadly use of massive force -- including weapons of mass destruction -- against its neighbors, including the invasion of sovereign nations," he said.

    Fuel oil suspended

    Washington has kept more than 30,000 troops in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953, and the border between the two Koreas is among the most heavily fortified in the world.

    In the wake of North Korea's revelation, the international consortium charged with implementing the 1994 agreement ordered the suspension of fuel oil deliveries to the Communist nation.

    In a radio broadcast in November, North Korean officials said their country is entitled to have a nuclear weapon.

    The nation also has sharply condemned the cancellation of fuel oil shipments, saying the decision is in violation of international agreements.

    Despite the rebuff from Pyongyang, IAEA and North Korean officials are continuing talks this week on implementing the agreement, a statement from IAEA Director-General Mohamed el Baradei said Wednesday.

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