North Korea rejects U.S. nuclear plan, Libya solution

SEOUL, Reuters

North Korea dismissed as “nothing but a sham offer” on Saturday U.S. proposals that the communist state follow the example of Libya and scrap its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and diplomatic recognition.

The United States laid out a plan for North Korea last month that would give the impoverished communist state multilateral energy aid after the North first commits to dismantle all of its nuclear programs and begins a verifiable disarmament process.

American officials have also urged North Korea to emulate Libya and trade away its nuclear arms and other dangerous weapons for better ties with the West.

Tripoli moved quickly from declaring its intent to scrap banned weapons in December to the lifting of U.S. sanctions to full diplomatic ties in June.

But North Korea said that without immediate rewards for freezing its nuclear activities, “the landmark proposal made by the United States is little worthy to be considered any longer.” The advice to copy Libya was “worse still”, because it demanded unilateral disarmament by North Korea, the North Korean foreign ministry said in statement published by the official KCNA news agency.

“It is a daydream for the U.S. to contemplate forcing the DPRK to lay down arms first under the situation where both are in a state of armistice and at war technically,” it said, using the initials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Pyongyang’s most detailed public comment on proposals advanced last month at talks among the two Koreas, Japan, the United States, China and Russia did not carry a threat to stay away from the next round of six-country talks in September.

Veteran negotiators say North Korea often uses state media to state stridently uncompromising positions in advance of talks, but that formal positions are presented in the talks.

North Korea repeated its terms for resolving a crisis that erupted in October 2002 when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted it was working on a secret program to enrich uranium for weapons.