Archive for Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Bush hopeful N. Korean nuclear issues can be solved

October 22, 2002


— North Korea is an emerging threat, and the United States is working with China, Russia and other countries to persuade Kim Jong Il to disarm, President Bush said Monday.

Balancing concern with optimism, Bush said, "I believe we can do it peacefully." And while North Korea shares a place with Iraq in the president's "axis of evil," he took a far tougher line on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, calling him a unique threat.

At a brief White House news conference, Bush's rhetoric on North Korea was low-keyed. He called the disclosure that Pyongyang had a nuclear weapons development program "troubling news because we felt like they had given their word they weren't going to do this."

Bush said he would solicit the help of Chinese President Jiang Zemin at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., and the leaders of Russia, Japan and South Korea at Pacific Rim meetings next weekend in Mexico.

"This is a chance for people who love freedom and peace to work together to deal with an emerging threat," Bush said.

In 1994, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic assistance and civilian-style reactors.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that when North Korea admitted it had a program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, it said the 1994 agreement had been nullified. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday the situation was "very complex," however, and the administration was consulting with Congress and friends and allies.

So far, he said, the administration has not asked the Korean Energy Development Organization to cut off energy supplies to Pyongyang under the 1994 agreement, 500,000 tons of heavy oil per year.

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