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N. Korea Rejects IAEA Resolution - 2003-09-23

North Korea has rejected a resolution by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, asking the communist state to stop developing nuclear weapons. The reaction comes while efforts are being made to arrange a second round of talks on the nuclear issue.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday that North Korea has nothing to do with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and denounced last week's resolution.

The report described the IAEA as a "political waiting maid" of the United States.

North Korea blames Washington for the dispute over its efforts to build nuclear weapons, saying it needs the weapons to protect itself from the United States.

In a resolution passed Friday in Vienna, the IAEA asked North Korea to "completely dismantle" its nuclear weapons development. It also urged Pyongyang to "accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards" and cooperate with the agency in implementing them.

But the isolated communist country, which withdrew from the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty nine months ago, says the resolution "does not deserve even a passing note."

The dispute over North Korea's nuclear ambitions began a year ago, when U.S. officials said Pyongyang admitted having a nuclear weapons program in violation of several international accords.

Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman for the IAEA, says that North Korea's latest rebuff fits into a long-held pattern of non-compliance. "No, we do not view it as a setback," he said. "These resolutions have been issued year after year for almost 10 years now, reflecting the sad reality which is that we do not have the kind of cooperation that we need from North Korea and have not had it for over a decade in terms of verifying what is happening in that country with regard to its nuclear program." Last month, North Korea, the United States, South Korea, Russia, Japan and China gathered in Beijing for talks on resolving the nuclear crisis.

The negotiations ended inconclusively, and Beijing is now trying to set up a new round of talks. Delegates agreed to meet again but so far have not settled on a date or venue.

North Korea has described the talks as "useless," but has indicated it would take part in a new round.

Pyongyang wants the United States to sign a mutual non-aggression treaty, a demand the Bush administration has repeatedly rejected. However, the United States has offered numerous assurances that it has no plans to attack North Korea.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. military said it is deploying new unmanned spy planes in South Korea. The Shadow 200 surveillance planes, which monitor enemy movements and analyze damage on the battlefield, were also used in the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

The deployment is part of an $11 billion effort to bolster defenses against North Korea, which Pyongyang has denounced as war-mongering. The United States stations 37,000 troops in South Korea to help ward off possible attack by the North. The two Koreas remain technically at war because the Korean War ended in 1953 in an armed truce.