Hostile regime claims "proof" of U.S. aggression

A nation oft villainized and dubbed as a member of the "Axis of Evil" by a certain former U.S. President, North Korea insists that it's being wrongfully depicted.  At the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, Foreign Minister Pak Ui-Chun insisted that his country's nuclear weapons program -- which aims to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles -- is merely a defensive tool against agression from the U.S. and neighboring South Korea.

I. North Korea Defends Atomic Weapons Development

North Korea faces a difficult dilemma in that it must choose between aid to its large class of starving poor laborers and furthering its military ambitions.  Famine claimed the lives of as many as 3.5 million North Koreans in the 1990s.  The U.S. had promised North Korea 240,000 tons of food if it froze missile tests, and the country's new leader Kim Jong-un -- Kim Jong-Il's son and successor -- initially agreed on Feb. 29.  

But on April 19 North Korea abruptly went back on its promises with the launch of long-range rocket 13.  The launch, like those before it, ended in failure, with the rocket disintegrating shortly after launch.  Neighboring island Japan had previously announced it was ready to shoot down the rocket, had it travelled over its air space.

Following a heightening of tensions, Minister Ui-Chun cast fuel on flames saying that Washington's objective was to "eliminate the political ideology and system our people have opted for."

As an example of why his nation needed nuclear weapons for "self-defense", Minister Ui-Chun mentioned a recent South Korean and U.S. live-fire excercise, in which a North Korean flag was used for target practice.  He called that "clear proof of the hostile intent of the U.S."

North Korean missil
North Korea's April missile test failed. [Image Source: Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images]

He said his nation would not back down from atomic weapons development or from space flight.  

His government's public vision is "to explore and utilize the outer space and to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purpose."

Aside from "defensive" weapons, that "peaceful purpose" includes uranium enrichment for use in light-water nuclear power plants.

II. U.S. Counters With Warning

The United States, Japan, and South Korea held a side meeting at the forum to discuss their mutual concerns about North Korea's atomic ambitions.  Their representatives vowed, "Any provocation by North Korea ... will be met with a resolute and coordinated response from the international community.

[We have] deep concern about the well-being of the North Korean people and the grave human rights situation in North Korea."

Talks with North Korea have made little headway since a bit of initial progress in Dec. 2008.  Peace talks tend to be so-called "six party talks" -- discussions which involve Russia and China -- North Korea's allies in the region, and Japan and South Korea -- adversaries of sorts to the secretive totalitarian regime.  The last two players are the U.S. and North Korea itself.

Source: Defense News

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