North Korea Vows Major Arms
Build-Up To Cope With US

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea warned the United States on Tuesday it would build up its military to counter what it said was U.S. "strong-arm policy'' against the communist state.
``The U.S. escalated policy intended to stifle the DPRK compels the DPRK to increase its military capabilities for self-defense to cope with it,'' the ruling party daily Rodong Sinmun said in a statement.
``The Bush government is still pursuing the hardline policy to contain the DPRK though it calls for the 'resumption of dialogue without any precondition','' said the commentary, carried on North's Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).
DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name -- the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The statement said the United States was using its anti-terrorism campaign as an excuse to boost its forces in South Korea, creating a ``war atmosphere.''
U.S. officials have said that troops and weapons shifted from South Korea to Afghanistan have been replenished. Many of the curfews imposed on the 37,000 U.S. troops in South Korea after the September 11 aerial attacks have been eased.
The latest verbal attack on the Bush administration followed North Korea's angry rejection last week of U.S. calls for inspections to hunt for suspected weapons of mass destruction, including biological and chemical arms.
North Korea frequently uses bluster, threats and bluffs as a diplomatic tool to extract concessions from South Korea or get the attention of the South's ally, the United States, analysts say.
Experts said it was unlikely impoverished North Korea, which spends a quarter of its gross domestic product on its huge forward-deployed military, would further boost military readiness.
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung told British business leaders in London on Monday that ``the security risk that has long been an obstacle to inducing foreign capital has diminished to a minimum'' as a result of his policies of engaging North Korea.
North-South ties are at a standstill, despite an unprecedented series of exchanges in 2000 which raised hopes of reconciliation. The two Koreas remain technically at war because they failed to sign a peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean conflict.
Despite its penchant for hostile rhetoric against the United States, South Korea and Japan, North Korea has also sent some positive signals to those countries in recent days.
On Monday, the North Korean Foreign Ministry thanked the international community for food aid that has helped it cope with grave food shortages since 1995.
Earlier that day, North Korea signed agreements with the Korean peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), on the quality guarantees of two nuclear reactors which Western countries agreed to build for the communist North.
KEDO is a consortium set up to implement the $4.6 billion reactor project under the 1994 Agreed Framework deal, which froze the North's suspected nuclear weapons program and obliges North Korea to open its atomic facilities to international inspection.
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