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N. Korea disputes nuke deal

Abdul Qadeer Khan is revered as Pakistan's
Abdul Qadeer Khan is revered as Pakistan's "father of the bomb."

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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea has disputed a recent confession by Pakistan's top nuclear scientist that he sold nuclear technology to Pyongyang, calling it a "sheer lie" created by the United States, Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency reported.

Last week, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted responsibility and apologized for transferring Pakistan's nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

"The U.S. trite smear campaign would only reveal its deplorable position and will convince no one," KCNA quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

"What matters here is why the U.S. is so persistently setting afloat such unverifiable fiction about [North Korea's] enriched uranium program."

North Korea accused the United States of pursuing "groundless propaganda" as a pretext for attack, "just as what it did in Iraq ."

After a six-month break, talks on North Korea's nuclear program are scheduled to resume February 25 in Beijing. Pyongyang accused Washington of playing up the Pakistan-North Korea nuclear connection as a way of scuttling the talks.

"The U.S. smear campaign would only provide [North Korea] with an opportunity to realize once again what a just measure it took to build nuclear deterrent force."

The nuclear dispute flared October 2002, when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted having a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of international agreements.

Representatives of six nations -- the United States, China, Russia, Japan and North and South Korea -- held talks in Beijing in August over Pyongyang's nuclear program, but took months to set a date for the second round of talks.


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