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North Korea pulls out of anti-nuke agreement, despite 'sunshine'

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January 10, 2003 Posted: 3:38 AM EST (0838 GMT)
On Dec. 23-24, North Korea cut U.N. seals and removed surveillance equipment at facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear site.
On Dec. 23-24, North Korea cut U.N. seals and removed surveillance equipment at facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear site.  

According to the official North Korean news agency, North Korea has announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a major international agreement with the goal to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. Under the treaty, North Korea had agreed to stop pursuing nuclear weapons, but the country recently admitted to having a nuclear weapons program anyway.

North Korea's admission has strained its relations with the international community. The U.S. has called on North Korea to immediately stop all ongoing nuclear weapons programs, and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that the U.S. would not negotiate with the country on that point.


North Korea seems to be on better terms with South Korea. One count revealed that there were 34 face-to-face meetings between North and South Korea in 2002, the most encounters of any year since the Korean Peninsula was divided 55 years ago.

North Korea recently agreed to hold Cabinet-level talks with South Korea in Seoul, the Associated Press reports. The talks, planned for January 21-24, will take place a week later than the South had proposed, and they will be the highest level of inter-Korean dialogue since the North's secret nuclear weapons program was revealed.

The North has recently allowed brief reunions between hundreds of family members, separated for more than 50 years by the border between North and South Korea. The move, along with the first-ever meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas, is said to result from what is called the "sunshine policy." That policy was adopted by South Korea's outgoing President Kim Dae-Jung.

While critics of North Korea say the country appears hostile in the current nuclear standoff, supporters of the sunshine policy disagree. Moon Chung-In of Yonsei University in Seoul said that the policy "has sent a very clear signal to North Korea that if you cooperate and pursue opening and reform, then you can get support from [South Korea]. And that triggered changes, real changes, in North Korea."

An example of the sunshine policy at work is Kim Yoon-Kyu, who runs tours to North Korea's Keumgang Mountains. He says he sees a big difference in relations between the two countries, and that it is very comfortable now to sit and talk to North Koreans.

The policy might get a name change when South Korea's President-elect Roh Moo-hyun takes office. However, Roh Moo-hyun publicly endorses the policy, which means it will probably stay in place.

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