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Bush Urged to Abandon North Korea Nuclear Deal - 2002-02-13

A group of lawmakers is urging President Bush to abandon a deal with North Korea aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear programs.

Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Republican Congressmen Ben Gilman of New York and Chris Cox of California are making their appeal in a letter to President Bush. It comes just days before the President travels to Seoul and Tokyo to discuss the status of the 1994 agreement with North Korea.

Under the deal, Pyongyang agreed to freeze its nuclear programs in exchange for two light-water power reactors and other assistance.

But the lawmakers cited news reports suggesting North Korea is violating the agreement and developing a nuclear weapons program.

"A nuclear-armed North Korea would pose a grave threat not only to our nation, but to our allies," said Congressman Gilman, an influential member of the International Affairs Committee.

Congressman Markey said North Korea has yet to offer verification that it has frozen its nuclear programs, and he is not confident that Pyongyang will be forthcoming in the future.

"We are highly skeptical that North Korea will ever allow the International Atomic Energy Agency full and immediate access to suspected nuclear facilities and other information in North Korea," said Mr. Markey.

President Bush has called North Korea part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq, which he says is intent on developing weapons of mass destruction.

The comments have infuriated Pyongyang, which responded by condemning the United States as an "empire of evil."