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Nuke treaty withdrawal defended by Koreans.

North Korea denied that pulling out of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty was brinkmanship, and yesterday accused the United States of not being sincere about wanting talks.

The reclusive communist state said as a sovereign country it had the right to withdraw from international agreements.

'Some countries and media describe our recent measures as brinkmanship tactics and that is a silly allegation,' the North's state media said.

Pyongyang kept up its confrontational stance as a US envoy in Seoul offered the possibility of energy assistance if North Korea gives up its nuclear programmes and called for a peaceful resolution of the stand-off.

The North withdrew from the nuclear pact last week and has threatened to drop a moratorium on missile tests and reactivate a plant that can be used to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

The North says it will resolve US security fears if Washington signs a non-aggression pact.

To many, the steps are a ploy by a desperately poor and isolated nation to trade in its nuclear programmes for much-need assistance and diplomatic ties.

But yesterday the North's state media said Pyongyang's recent moves were prompted by Washington's aggressive attitude.

The international effort to defuse the confrontation and dissuade Pyongyang from building nuclear weapons widened yesterday when UN envoys headed to North Korea.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:9NORT
Date:Jan 15, 2003
Words:212
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