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North Korea vows to bolster nuclear deterrent

AFP | December 19 2005

North Korea said Monday it would bolster its nuclear deterrent to counter a US bid to use the human rights issue as part of a drive to topple the communist regime.

In a statement published by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman denounced Washington for stepping up an anti-North Korea "human rights offensive."

The offensive was part of Washington's "sinister intention to realize a regime change" in North Korea at any cost, the spokesman said.

North Korea will increase "self-reliant national defence capacity including nuclear deterrent ... to cope with the US escalated policy to isolate and stifle it with the nuclear issue and the 'human rights issue' as pretexts," he said.

North Korea has stepped up its verbal attack on the United States since the United Nations adopted a resolution last month that expressed serious concern about Pyongyang's human rights record.

The resolution was sponsored by the European Union but North Korea has blamed the United States for its adoption.

"A lesson the Korean people have drawn from the US undisguised human rights campaign against the DPRK (North Korea) is that human rights precisely means the state sovereignty and defending human rights precisely means protecting this sovereignty," the spokesman said.

At six-party talks in September, North Korea agreed in principle to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for diplomatic and economic benefits and security guarantees.

But at the last session in November it said US sanctions were blocking any progress.

North Korea said last week that six-party talks would be suspended indefinitely unless the United States lifts the sanctions.

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