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White House: N. Korea Decision to Reactivate Nuclear Plant Is  'Regrettable' - 2002-12-12


The White House says it regrets North Korea's decision to reactivate a controversial nuclear power plant that U.S. officials say is capable of producing weapons-grade material. It's the latest development in a growing dispute surrounding Pyongyang's nuclear intentions.

The North Korean government says it had no choice; that it had to reactivate the plant after shipments of energy aid were suspended.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer called the decision "regrettable." Speaking to reporters traveling with President Bush to Philadelphia, he said Pyongyang's announcement flies in the face of an international consensus that North Korea must fulfill all its commitments and dismantle its nuclear weapons.

It was a reference to a 1994 agreement in which the North Koreans pledged to freeze their nuclear weapons program in exchange for shipments of oil and other energy aid.

U.S. officials say North Korea acknowledged in October that it had a secret program to enrich uranium in violation of the 1994 pact.

The Bush administration declared then and repeats now that it wants to solve the problem peacefully through diplomatic pressure. But Mr. Fleischer stressed during the flight to Philadelphia that the United States will not enter into a dialogue with North Korea in response to threats or broken commitments.