north korea calls u.s.-led drill 'dangerous act'

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    North Korea calls U.S.-led drill 'dangerous act'
    02:09, Friday, 29 October 2004

    By Irwin Arieff

    UNITED NATIONS, Oct 28 (Reuters) - North Korea on Thursday
    warned that a U.S.-led naval exercise held off its shores
    threatened global stability and could also undermine six-party
    talks aimed at ending a crisis over its nuclear ambitions.

    The exercise, staged to help stop the spread of weapons of
    mass destruction, "constitutes a breach of the Charter of the
    United Nations, international law and order and a dangerous act
    that could entail global instability," North Korean U.N.
    Ambassador Pak Gil Yon wrote Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

    Combined with other U.S. defense moves in the region, it
    "expressly represents an arrangement for the preemptive attack
    against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," Pak said in
    a letter dated Tuesday and made public on Thursday.

    The involvement of some of the six parties engaged in
    negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear program "will create an
    obstacle to the peaceful solution of the nuclear issue of the
    Korean peninsula," Pak said, asking Annan to take unspecified
    "immediate action in view of the gravity of the situation."

    The "Team Samurai" exercise in Sagami Bay southwest of
    Tokyo on Tuesday was the 12th in the U.S.-led Proliferation
    Security Initiative (PSI), but the first to be held in North
    Korea's backyard.

    The anti-proliferation initiative, under which ships and
    aircraft suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction can
    be intercepted, has the support of more than 60 countries.

    Officially, the exercise was not aimed at any particular
    country, but U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, aboard a
    Japanese coast guard vessel during the drill, made no secret
    that North Korea was on his mind.



    NORTH KOREA IN MIND

    "North Korea is a serious proliferation problem. It's the
    world's foremost proliferator of ballistic missile technology,"
    he said after the exercise.

    Pyongyang has repeatedly criticized the U.S.-led initiative
    as an attempt by Washington to strangle it economically.

    Among participants were Australia, France, Japan and the
    United States. Fifteen other countries, including Britain,
    Canada, Italy, Spain and Russia, attended as observers.

    China and South Korea declined an invitation to join the
    drill, apparently to avoid offending North Korea.

    During the exercise, a Japanese patrol plane reported to
    other countries' ships that it had spotted two suspicious
    vessels -- one flying a "skull and crossbones" flag.

    Speedboats, planes and helicopters chased the target vessel
    and a Japanese patrol ship blocked its path. A Japanese coast
    guard anti-terrorist unit then boarded it from a helicopter to
    seize containers said to contain the deadly nerve gas sarin.

    Members of the U.S. Coast Guard, French navy and Australian
    customs officials later boarded a second target ship where they
    carried out a similar search and confiscation maneuver.

    The six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program involve
    China, the United States, North and South Korea, Japan and
    Russia.

    The nuclear crisis began in October 2002 when Washington
    said North Korea had admitted pursuing a secret uranium
    enrichment program. Pyongyang now denies having such a program
    and has demanded energy aid and diplomatic concessions in
    return for freezing an older plutonium-based nuclear program.

    ((Editing by Bette O'Connor; [email protected];
    Reuters Messaging: [email protected]; +1 212
    355-6053, fax +1 212 355-0143))

    (c) Reuters Limited 2004
    REUTER NEWS SERVICE

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    Fig Jam
 
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