Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States is reviewing its obligations under a 1994 agreement providing North Korea with aid in exchange for Pyongyang's promise to freeze its nuclear weapons program. Mr. Powell said that since North Korea has acknowledged violating the agreement, the deal is as good as dead.
Secretary Powell says the agreement was nullified when North Korea admitted it had a secret nuclear weapons program. "When we told North Korea that we knew what they were doing, they came back the next day, admitted it, blamed us for their actions, and then said they considered that agreement nullified. And when you have an agreement between two parties and one says it is nullified, then it is hard to see what you do with such an agreement," he said.
During an appearance on the NBC television program Meet the Press, Mr. Powell was asked if the United States will cancel its side of the bargain and cut off aid. "We are now looking at what should be the consequences of their action and we will act step by step after we have had a chance to fully consult with our friends and allies," he responded.
Those countries include Japan, South Korea, China, and Russia. Secretary of State Powell said they are looking at several options, including a halt to American shipments of fuel oil to North Korea.
Mr. Powell indicated another aid program linked to the 1994 deal, South Korean and Japanese help with construction of nuclear power plants in the North, is also under review.
White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice told CBS's Face the Nation that the Bush administration believes this problem demands a multi-lateral approach. "This is an opportunity for the international community to stand up together and say to the North Koreans: if you have any hope of breaking out of your isolation, your economic isolation, your political isolation, that hope is going to be dashed by continuing to pursue illegal nuclear weapons," Ms. Rice said.
North Korea admitted it had a secret nuclear weapons program during a meeting with American officials in Pyongyang in early October. President Bush has called North Korea part of an "axis of evil," along with Iran and Iraq.
But the Bush administration has made clear it considers Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to be a more immediate threat, saying Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is a dangerous man who has already invaded two of his neighbors.