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Date published: 2005/02/10
The Financial Times says (subscription service):
North Korea on Thursday declared it had manufactured nuclear weapons - its most brazen admission yet that is has crossed the nuclear threshold - and announced it was withdrawing from multilateral negotiations on its disarmament.
Coming amid increasing hopes of an imminent breakthrough to the stalemate over Pyongyang”s nuclear weapons programme, perhaps as soon as this month, the statement will confound North Korea”s neighbours.
"We had already taken the resolute action of pulling out of the NPT (nuclear non-proliferation treaty) and have manufactured nukes for self-defence to cope with the Bush administration”s ever-more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK," North Korea”s foreign ministry said, in a statement run by the official Korean Central News Agency. North Korea is officially known there as the Democratic People”s Republic of Korea.
The weapons were built as a "nuclear deterrent for self-defence under any circumstances," the statement said. "The present reality proves that only powerful strength can protect justice and truth."
But some analysts point out that North Korea, with its fondness for belligerent outbursts, has a history of strengthening its threats just before agreeing to talks, a tactic aimed at increasing its bargaining power. If that is the case this time, Thursday”s rhetoric could in fact be a counter-intuitively positive gesture.
Nevertheless, the first unequivocal admission that it already has nuclear arms will in the interim cause some alarm.
North Korea is of course run by one of the most dreadful governments in the world. In particular nothing they say can be believed, so whether or not they have a nuclear bomb is no clearer today. But given the current American government's view of the world, it makes sense for all countries to have as big a military presence as possible, in case the US decides to bomb them next (Iraq was no threat and they were not only bombed they were invaded). Although whatever happens, North Korea is far more likely to harm South Korea and Japan than the US.
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