- ROTTERDAM (Reuters) - Former
U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Sunday his administration threatened
North Korea with the destruction of its nuclear facilities when the Asian
state was developing weapons-grade plutonium in the early 1990s.
- "We were in a very intense situation with North
Korea. They were planning to produce six to eight nuclear weapons per year
with plutonium extracted from power plants," Clinton said in a speech
to a security forum in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.
- "We actually drew up plans to attack North Korea
and to destroy their reactors and we told them we would attack unless they
ended their nuclear program."
- North Korea this month said it planned to restart a nuclear
reactor that could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
- The plant was idled under a 1994 agreement with the United
States aimed at preventing the reclusive Stalinist state from developing
- Seoul described the decision as "unacceptable"
and both the United States and South Korea have put fresh pressure on Pyongyang
to abandon its nuclear program.
- Impoverished North Korea, which relies heavily on foreign
aid to feed its people, says it needs the complex for power.
- "They probably don't intend to sell these weapons
but instead bargain for more aid by threats. I approve of the approach
by President (George W.) Bush to work with the South Koreans, Chinese,
Japanese and Russians to end this program -- but make no mistake about
it, it has to be ended," said Clinton.
- "You do not want North Korea making bombs and selling
them to the highest bidder because they cannot feed themselves through
- Under the 1994 pact, North Korea agreed to freeze operations
at the Soviet-era nuclear complex in exchange for heavy fuel oil and construction
of two light- water reactors, less likely to yield weapons-grade fuel.
- When Pyongyang told an American envoy in October that
it had been pursuing a separate, clandestine uranium-enrichment program,
the United States and its South Korean, Japanese and European Union allies
decided to halt fuel oil shipments.
- Bush has branded North Korea part of an "axis of
evil" along with Iraq and Iran.