N. Korean Minister Warns
UN Of War 'Ever More Iminent'
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A North Korean official said Monday that the danger of another Korean War "is getting ever more imminent" because the Korean peninsula remains divided.
In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon said reunification would remove the danger of war. And he called the U.S. Army's presence in South Korea "the major obstacle" to reunification.
But Choe also had more hopeful words for the gathering of world leaders, saying that the next century could still be "peaceful and prosperous." He said the world would see an independent and peace-loving North Korea develop into "a prosperous power."
And he said North Korea remains committed to reunification.
"It is our consistent stand to hold dialogue for reunification and to improve relations between the north and south of Korea," he said.
Choe reiterated North Korea's demand that the United States withdraw its forces from South Korea and called on Japan to stop meddling in the peninsula's affairs.
"As a result of the present military maneuvers against North Korea on and around the Korean peninsula, a danger that either the 20th century may close or the 21st century may open with another Korean war is getting ever more imminent," he said.
Choe touted North Korea's first satellite launch on Aug. 31 as a demonstration of "the might of our scientific and technical development."
He said the satellite was launched successfully with a multi-stage rocket.
U.S. intelligence agencies initially thought the North Koreans fired a three-stage ballistic missile, which flew across Japan. But U.S. analysts later concluded it was a failed satellite launch and demonstrated continued North Korean efforts to develop intercontinental-range missiles.
Choe said Japan shouldn't hinder reunification "by aggravating the tense situation on the Korean peninsula."
After the launch, the United States and Japan agreed to conduct joint research on a missile defense system that could protect Japan from attack.
"In order for the Korean people to solve questions on national unity and reunification by themselves, countries concerned including the United States and Japan should refrain from acts of hindering the efforts of the Korean people," Choe said.
He called for nuclear disarmament to remain a priority on the U.N. agenda but made no mention of his country's nuclear program.