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North Korea Warns of Possible War

The state-run Korean Central News Agency, according to the Associated Press, said, ”The only way to prevent a catastrophic crisis of a war … is to conclude a non-aggression treaty between North Korea and the U.S. at an early date.”

The news agency reported that North Korean officials had tried to start talks regarding a treaty only to be rebuffed by U.S. officials who said there would be no dialogue unless North Korea agrees to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea’s official newspaper said the United States “went so far as to openly declare a war against the DPRK [North Korea].”

Monday’s statement is the latest in a series of escalating exchanges between the U.S. and one of its last Cold War foes.

North Korea admitted last month, after being questioned by U.S. officials, that it had secretly restarted a nuclear-development program that had been frozen since a 1994 agreement between the two countries.

The hard-line communist nation also announced last week that it would reactivate a plutonium-based reactor that U.S. officials said could be used to produce nuclear weapons.

North Korean officials complained Monday that the United States had retaliated for the renewal of the nuclear program by halting food shipments to the impoverished communist country.

“The United States has so far claimed that aid to had nothing to do with the ‘nuclear issue,'” a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted in the government newspaper.

The Bush administration has said that further food aid will be contingent upon North Korea allowing more monitoring of its distribution throughout the country, a condition North Korea has called “unreasonable.”

Some international aid workers have said they suspect food aid meant to feed the poor is being diverted to North Korea’s military.

On Dec. 9 Spanish navy vessels seized a North Korean ship loaded with more than a dozen Scud missiles bound for Yemen and turned it over to the United States. After protests from the Yemeni government that the weapons had been legally bought from North Korea U.S. officials decided to release the ship.

U.S. officials were reportedly upset that Yemen, an ally in the war on terrorism, would be trading for arms with North Korea — a country Pres. George W. Bush has said belongs to an “axis of evil” that threatens the United States and world peace.

Americans officials have reportedly long-worried that North Korea, suffering under severe financial difficulties, would sell weapons to countries or groups hostile to the United States.

North Korea called the seizure of the ship “piracy” and demanded an apology from the United States.

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