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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

icWales - North Korea nuclear situation 'reaching crisis point'

icWales - North Korea nuclear situation 'reaching crisis point':

North Korea nuclear situation 'reaching crisis point'

Dec 22 2004

A South Korean envoy today said that military pressure or economic sanctions would not stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions, and that a peaceful resolution of the issue must be reached in 2005 in order to avert a crisis.

"Unfortunately real negotiation to settle the North Korean nuclear issue has not begun yet," said Chung Dong-young, South Korea's unification minister, who also serves as chairman of the standing committee of its National Security Council.

Chung was in Beijing for meetings with Chinese officials to discuss efforts to start a new round of six-nation talks on US demands that the North give up its nuclear programs.

"In 2005 we will be at a crossroad," Chung said. "We can either find a breakthrough in resolving the matter or we can face a crisis situation."

Chung added: "There are some who talk of military pressure or economic sanction, but we do not want any military means to resolve the issue."

North Korea said last week it would treat sanctions as a "declaration of war."

North Korea accuses the United States of planning military action against Pyongyang. Washington denies that, saying it has no intention to invade or attack North Korea.

China has hosted three rounds of talks without a breakthrough. A fourth round that was to be held in September never took place because North Korea refused to attend.

China and South Korea are leading efforts to restart the talks, which also include the Japan and Russia.

North Korea says it will abandon its nuclear weapons development if the United States provides economic aid and security guarantees, including a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

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