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North Korea: No Concessions on Nuclear Program - 2003-03-29

North Korea says it will not make concessions in the standoff over its nuclear program. A commentary in the Communist Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun says Iraq made compromises in allowing in weapons inspectors, and its destiny is now at stake.

The newspaper said Iraq "compromised its revolutionary principles" by allowing United Nations weapons inspectors into the country, and by agreeing to disarmament.

The commentary also said Pyongyang is not about to follow Saddam Hussein's lead. Washington has been demanding that Pyongyang end its suspected nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang has expelled U.N. nuclear inspectors, and pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

If it had given in to Washington's demands, the newspaper commentary said, North Korea would have already met what it called the same "miserable fate" as Iraq.

It said no one should expect North Korea to make the "slightest concession or compromise." Instead, it said, Pyongyang will increase its self-defensive capabilities.

Pyongyang's latest comments came hours after South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-Kwan met U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington to discuss the nuclear standoff. Mr. Yoon later told journalists that Washington has reaffirmed its policy of finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis. As Mr. Hoon put it: "North Korea and Iraq are two different issues and require different approaches."

The Korean crisis began in October, when U.S. officials said Pyongyang had admitted it had a secret nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang has demanded direct talks with Washington to resolve the issue, but Washington favors multilateral talks, including the North's neighbors, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia. Pyongyang has never confirmed that it is working on nuclear weapons, but has reserved the right to do so as a defensive measure.