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N. Korea Threatens Countermeasures Against 'Hostile' US Policy

North Korea has threatened it will take countermeasures against what it views as a hostile U.S. policy. Some political analysts say the statement is a veiled rejection of a U.S. offer to restart a bilateral dialogue.

A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman says Washington is placing unreasonable demands on Pyongyang. He also dismisses U.S. suggestions that the communist state do more to cooperate against terrorism.

President Bush on Monday urged North Korea to allow weapons inspections, and said they would be necessary for better bilateral ties.

Pyongyang Thursday angrily rejected the request and threatened to take what it called "necessary countermeasures." It did not specify what those might be.

Paik Hack-soon, a research fellow for an independent South Korean research institute, says the comments show that Pyongyang is unlikely to accept Washington's suggestion, made last June, that the two nations reopen talks on North Korea's missile program, nuclear issues and conventional forces.

Mr. Paik predicts that North Korea will not take any action against the United States.

"I cannot think of any specific countermeasures they can make," he says. "This is simply a verbal attack, a verbal exchange. What kind of countermeasures could North Korea take against the United States? None. They know that if they take any such measures it will lead to a very undesirable outcome."

Tensions between North Korea and the United States began to rise when President Bush took office nearly one year ago. The president expressed skepticism about Pyongyang's leadership and his administration halted bilateral talks to conduct a policy review.

Improved ties with the United States could clear the way for for North Korea, which suffers from chronic food shortages, to receive billions of dollars in aid from international organizations.

However, Washington, Seoul and other governments remain concerned about suspected North Korean stockpiles of plutonium for making nuclear weapons, as well as its suspected supplies of chemical and biological weapons.