AFP. 31 January 2002. North Korea says it is powerfully equipped for
conflict; Bush attacks hits hopes for talks with North Korea.
SEOUL -- The North Korean government on Friday condemned what it called
the "moral leprosy" of US President George W. Bush and said it was
powerfully equipped for any conflict.
In the first official North Korean reaction to Bush's State of the Union
speech this week, a foreign ministry spokesman said: "We are sharply
watching the disturbing moves of the United States that has pushed the
situation to the brink of war."
The spokesman said the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington
and scandals such as the collapse of the US energy giant Enron were
"entirely attributable to the unilateral and self-opinionated foreign
policy, political immaturity and moral leprosy of the Bush
The spokesman, quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA),
said Bush's acts justified the North's openly anti-US stand.
"The prevailing situation where the US openly disclosed its intention to
stifle the DPRK by force of arms makes us keenly realize once again what
a just stand the DPRK took when it has followed the US with vigilance
and what a far-sighted policy it has pursued to equip itself with
powerful offensive and defensive means, tightening its belt."
President George W. Bush's withering designation of North Korea as part
of an "axis of evil" has prompted new doubts over the sincerity of his
administration's offer to talk to Pyongyang at "any time, any place."
Bush's critics seized on that as evidence that, however hardline,
inflexible North Korea may be, Bush was unwilling to grasp warnings that
the best way to deal with it was by cajoling and creative diplomacy
rather than threats.
The US president's new tack is far from the face-saving gesture which
Kim Dae-Jung this month asked the United States to make to draw
Pyongyang back to talks.
Despite speculation here that North Korea could be the next target in
the war on terror, it is difficult to see what kind of military action
is feasible as North Korea, a highly militarised state has a million
strong army, and 10,000 artillery pieces positioned to rain death on
Seoul at short notice.
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