Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

South Provoking War, North Korea Charges U.S. Warns of Sanctions over Nuclear Impasse

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

South Provoking War, North Korea Charges U.S. Warns of Sanctions over Nuclear Impasse

Article excerpt

Tension on the world's most heavily armed border escalated Tuesday with North Korea accusing South Korea of provoking war and South Korea saying it needs better security to ensure peace.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the U.S.-led drive to inspect North Korea's nuclear program was at a critical stage.

"We have made it clear to North Korea that it must become a responsible member of the international community or that community will have no choice but to pursue progressively stronger measures," including economic sanctions, Christopher said.

In Seoul, South Korean President Kim Young-sam ordered his country's armed forces on defensive alert and said he would ask China, North Korea's only major ally, to help ease the nuclear standoff.

North Korea's state-run news agency called South Korea's plans to deploy Patriot missiles and conduct military exercises with the United States "provocative steps . . . and a declaration of war."

After refusing to allow full inspections of sites where it is suspected of developing nuclear weapons, North Korea threatened Monday to pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. China has backed efforts to get North Korea to permit the inspections. But Chinese Premier Li Peng suggested Tuesday that China would not support economic sanctions.

Michael McCurry, a State Department spokesman, said Chinese officials had indicated their willingness to work with the United States on the Korean situation.

Tension has risen sharply in the last week because of North Korea's refusal to allow full nuclear inspections or to exchange envoys with South Korea for discussions on making the peninsula nuclear-free.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, Austria, referred the issue to the U.N. Security Council, opening the way for sanctions to be considered. No proposal for sanctions has been made, but the five permanent members of the Security Council - the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia - met privately Tuesday afternoon to discuss the situation.

McCurry said a resolution warning North Korea that it risked sanctions could be ready for Security Council consideration later in the week.

Christopher told the Senate committee that the United States would defend South Korea against any aggression, but that it would pursue diplomatic pressure before seeking sanctions. …

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