North Korea is Not Bluffing Claiming it
Has Nuclear Weapons, Says Russia

Stryker infantry carrier vehicles at the Rodriguez Range Complex in South Korea during a joint demonstration. Due to the potential North Korean threat, South Korean and American forces have been performing various exercises testing their ability to carry out tasks in close proximity to friendly forces.

Photo by Lisa Jendry / U.S. Army Photo

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) — A senior Russian parliamentarian is positive that North Korea will conduct the tests of a "nuclear device" this June.

The countries that are party to talks on Korea’s nuclear program have come to "a critical point."

On February 10, North Korea announced it had produced a nuclear weapon. "Thereby, it declared itself a nuclear state," Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the international affairs committee of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, said on Tuesday ahead of his visit to Pyongyang.

Kosachev denied facts that prove North Korea would conduct nuclear tests soon.

Kosachev said Russia urged the resumption of six-party talks on Korea’s nuclear program, which were launched in Beijing in August 2003, but came to a deadlock after three rounds over differences between North Korea and the United States. Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan are the other parties to the dialogue.

Unlike the U.S., Russia "is prepared to support North Korea’s peaceful nuclear energy program that would be implemented under strict international control," said Kosachev. The U.S., he recalled, on the contrary was opposed to any, even peaceful, nuclear programs for the country.

Kosachev said attempts to exert pressure on North Korea were counterproductive. He described the U.S.’ proposal to submit "the North Korean file" for consideration at the UN Security Council as a last resort measure to be followed by imposing sanctions.

"This policy with respect to North Korea will not bring the result we want," he said. It can "drive North Korea out of the negotiating process for good."

Kosachev said when in Pyongyang that the State Duma delegation would discuss issues related to the development of the North’s nuclear programs. "Under the circumstances it is extremely important to get North Korea engaged in the six-party talks again," said Kosachev. The MP said that was crucial for North Korea’s relations with its neighbors, regional stability, and global security.

Articles Related to the North Korean Threat:

** White House, State Discuss Nonproliferation Efforts
Bush Pleased With Progress in Iraq, Explains N. Korea Steps
** Rice: North Korea Well Aware of US, Allied Deterrent Power in Region

White House, State Discuss Nonproliferation Efforts

By Jim Garamone

South Korean Minister of National Defense Yoon Kwang-ung looks at a satellite photo of North and South Korea given to him by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld during a meeting in the Pentagon. Rumsfeld and Yoon met to discuss defense issues of mutual interest.

Photo by James M. Bowman / DoD Photo

U.S. officials stressed this week that North Korea should end its isolation and come back to the Six Party Talks as soon as possible.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the United States continues to urge North Korea to come back to the talks. "We have a proposal on the table," McClellan said during a White House news conference. "All parties in the region are in agreement that that is the only viable path for North Korea to pursue."

McClellan said North Korea has a strategic decision to make and it should decide "to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Then it can start to become part of the international community."

The spokesman said the nuclear issue is not the only one confronting the six nations – the United States, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea – involved in the talks, but it is the most important.

North Korea test-fired a missile into the Sea of Japan on May 1. South Korean officials said the missile was not a long-range rocket and could not carry a nuclear warhead.

South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoon Young-kwan (right) meets with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (foreground) in the Pentagon on March 29, 2003. The men are discussing a number of bilateral security issues including the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program. South Korean Ambassador Sung Chul Yang (center) joined in the talks.

Photo by R.D. Ward. / DoD Archive Photo

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said no one should be confused about U.S. ability to deter North Korean nuclear ambitions or gains on the peninsula. "We have, after all, a very strong alliance with South Korea and a very strong alliance with Japan," she said during a news conference. "And of course the United States maintains significant – and I want to underline ‘significant’ – deterrent capability of all kinds in the Asia-Pacific region."

McClellan said U.S. representatives to the U.N.’s meeting on the Nonproliferation Treaty will speak about the benefits of the treaty and that "the vast majority of those who are party to the treaty are meeting their obligations, but there are some that are not."

He said Steven G. Rademaker, an assistant secretary of state, will discuss North Korea and Iran and their noncompliance.

The spread of weapons of mass destruction is a serious threat the world faces, McClellan said. President Bush would like to close a loophole in the treaty that allows for countries to "pursue nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program. And that is a concern of ours, particularly with a country like Iran," he added.

Bush Pleased With Progress in Iraq,
Explains N. Korea Steps

By Jim Garamone

President Bush said the Iraqi people are making good progress in creating a democracy in the nation and said that as the democracy takes root, more people will see the benefits.

He spoke during a White House press conference April 28. The president also spoke about North Korea.

"There are still some in Iraq who aren’t happy with democracy," Bush said. "They want to go back to the old days of tyranny and darkness, torture chambers and mass graves. I believe we’re making really good progress in Iraq, because the Iraqi people are beginning to see the benefits of a free society."

The president said he was pleased with Iraqi officials’ announcing their cabinet. He also praised the training effort coalition forces have undertaken to form the Iraqi army and Iraqi police.

"The Iraqi military is being trained by our military, and they’re performing much better than the past," Bush said. "The more secure Iraq becomes, as a result of the hard work of Iraqi security forces, the more confidence the people will have in the process, and the more isolated the terrorists will become."

But Iraq still has problems and still has terrorists willing to kill vast numbers of people to intimidate the population and bring back the excesses of the former regime. "We will work with the Iraqis to secure their future," the president said.

"A free Iraq in the midst of the Middle East is an important part of spreading peace. It’s a region of the world where a lot of folks in the past never thought democracy could take hold. Democracy is taking hold. And as democracy takes hold, peace will more likely be the norm."

Bush said he would not lay out a timetable for pulling troops from Iraq. "All that will do is cause an enemy to adjust," he said. "So my answer is, ‘As soon as possible.’ And as soon as possible depends upon the Iraqis being able to fight and do the job."

The president said the number of U.S. troops in Iraq – now under 140,000 – is not limiting his options elsewhere in the world. In Korea, for example, the U.S. troop levels have dropped. But the U.S. has made up for that by increasing other capabilities in the nation.

"(North Korean leader) Kim Jong-il is a dangerous person," Bush said. "He’s a man who starves his people. He’s got huge concentration camps. And … there is concern about his capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon. We don’t know if he can or not, but I think it’s best when you’re dealing with a tyrant like Kim Jong-il to assume he can."

The president said the best way to deal with North Korea is via diplomacy. He said the United States tried a bilateral approach, and it didn’t work.

"I felt a better approach would be to include people in the neighborhood, into a consortium to deal with him," Bush said. "It’s particularly important to have China involved. China has got a lot of influence in North Korea."

Still the president isn’t relying solely on diplomacy. He said the missile defense system could offer at least limited protection from a North Korean strike. "We’ve got a comprehensive strategy in dealing with him," Bush said, referring to Kim Jong-il.

Rice: North Korea Well Aware of US,
Allied Deterrent Power in Region

By David Gollust

The U.S. and Korean Marines are participating in Korean Incremental Training Program 05-1, a three- pronged exercise focused on engineer, medical, and interoperability training between the host nation and different services.

Photo by Timothy E. LeMaster / DoD Photo

(VOA) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she is sure North Korean leaders are not confused about U.S. and South Korean military deterrent power in the region. She spoke in Santiago, Chile, in response to comments by a senior U.S. military analyst that North Korea may be capable of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles.

Ms. Rice would not comment on the substance of the assertion about North Korea by the head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Navy Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby.

But at a news conference after talks with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, Ms. Rice said she is sure the North Koreans are well aware of the strong military deterrent of U.S. and South Korean forces, and she urged Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks on its nuclear program.

Speaking at a public session of the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, Admiral Jacoby said the assessment of U.S. experts is that North Korea has the capability to arm a missile with a small nuclear device.

The defense intelligence chief also said U.S. analysts believe North Korea has the ability to deploy a two-stage missile that could hit parts of the continental United States, an assertion that drew expressions of alarm from committee members.

News reports in recent day have also said U.S. officials are concerned North Korea might be preparing to test a nuclear device, and may have shut down its Yongbyong nuclear reactor with the apparent intention of harvesting plutonium.

In her remarks here, when asked about the Senate testimony, Ms. Rice said the North Koreans are doing all kinds of things and that U.S. experts have differing assessments about their activities.

Without being specific, she said that if North Korea engages in certain kinds of behavior, it will only deepen its isolation.

She said she hopes there is an understanding of that in Pyongyang, where she said she is confident officials have no illusions about the balance of forces in the region. "We maintain a strong deterrent on the Korean peninsula both through our alliance with South Korea and through American military power in the region. And I’m quite certain the North Koreans are not confused about the military situation on the Korean peninsula. So yes, of course we’ve all been troubled by developments in North Korea. That’s why we have the six-party talks. But that’s the way for the North Koreans to end their isolation," she said.

The Secretary of State said it is a fairly universal view that North Korea should not have nuclear weapons, and that the only way for Pyongyang to obtain the benefits it appears to want from the international community is to negotiate an end to its program through the six-party talks.

The Chinese-sponsored talks have been idle since last June, and Ms. Rice said a referral of the issue to the U.N. Security Council remains an option.

U.S. intelligence officials believe North Korea has had a nuclear weapons capability since early 1990’s, and may have added to its arsenal since it expelled U.N. nuclear inspectors and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003.

In the six-party talks, the United States has offered to be part of multi-lateral security guarantees for North Korea if it verifiably and irreversibly scrapped its weapons program.