North Korea Vows Bolstered Atomic Arsenal

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea vowed Friday to bolster
its atomic arsenal in response to what it called Washington's
"hostile" policy, even as a special envoy for President Barack
Obama traveled to the region in a bid to draw Pyongyang back to
nuclear negotiations.

Envoy Stephen Bosworth, in Beijing before heading Friday to
South Korea, said the U.S. is ready and willing to talk directly
with Pyongyang.

"The United States reiterates its desire to engage both
multilaterally and bilaterally with North Korea," Bosworth told
reporters after holding talks with senior Chinese officials
Thursday. "We believe very strongly that the solution to the
tensions and problems of the area now lies in dialogue and
negotiation."

But North Korea dismissed the Obama administration's stance as
"unchanged" from a previous policy of hostility toward Pyongyang.

"Nothing would be expected from the U.S., which remains
unchanged in its hostility toward its dialogue partner," the
North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state
media. The North "will bolster its nuclear deterrent as it has
already clarified," it said.

Pyongyang in recent weeks has taken a series of steps flouting
its pledge to disarm, quitting international nuclear talks,
expelling inspectors and threatening to conduct nuclear and
long-range missile tests. The North also claimed it had restarted
its Yongbyon nuclear facilities to harvest weapons-grade plutonium.

The statement Friday cited Washington's denunciation of North
Korea's April 5 rocket launch and support for a U.N. Security
Council censure as evidence of the Obama administration's
hostility. The statement further noted joint military drills
between the U.S. and South Korea.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said earlier that
Washington's goal is to get North Korea back into the disarmament
process, but warned that it would be a difficult job.

"We may have to show some patience before that is achieved,"
she told reporters after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov, whose trip to Pyongyang last month produced little progress
in efforts to get the North back to the negotiating table.

Under a 2007 deal, North Korea agreed to disable its main
nuclear complex in Yongbyon north of Pyongyang in return for 1
million tons of fuel oil and other concessions.

In June, Pyongyang blew up the cooling tower there in a dramatic
show of its commitment to denuclearization.

But disablement came to halt a month later as Pyongyang wrangled
with Washington over how to verify its past atomic activities. The
latest round of talks in December failed to push the process
forward.


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