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05-10-2005, 04:32 PM
Rice Says U.S. Recognizes North Korea as a `Sovereign State'


May 10 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. recognizes North Korea as a sovereign state and doesn't plan to attack the communist nation, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

The U.S. ``recognizes that North Korea is sovereign. It's obvious. They're a member of the United Nations,'' Rice said in an interview in Moscow with CNN television yesterday, according a transcript posted on the State Department's Web site. ``We have no intention to attack or invade North Korea.''

The U.S., along with South Korea, China, Japan and Russia are trying to convince North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons. North Korea wants economic and fuel aid, security guarantees and recognition by the U.S. as a sovereign state.

North Korea may be speeding up preparations to conduct a nuclear test, including what may be construction of a reviewing stand for dignitaries, the New York Times reported on May 7, citing U.S. and foreign officials it didn't identify.

U.S. intelligence and defense officials are examining satellite photographs showing ``everything you need to test,'' the newspaper said, citing a senior administration official who has seen the pictures.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan on May 7 warned North Korea that a nuclear-weapons test would be considered a ``provocative act,'' following the reports. ``If North Korea did take such a step, that would just be another provocative act that would further isolate it from the international community,'' McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One, while traveling with President George W. Bush to Latvia.

Nuclear Talks

Rice once again urged North Korea to return to the six- nation talks to resolve the impasse.

``The best route for the North Koreans is to get back to the six-party framework because anything that they do to escalate the situation is only going to isolate them further,'' Rice said. ``Any activities that might be aimed at escalation are obviously not going to help their cause.''

Rice said North Korea should recognize that it would be favorable for the communist nation to return to six nation talks.

``It should be very clear to the North Koreans that there are many, many things that will be very favorable from a North Korean point of view,'' she said. ``Members of the six-party talks, several of them have talked about meeting North Korean energy needs. WeÆve talked about being able to have security assurances on a multilateral basis.''

Possible Test

Reports that North Korea may be ready to conduct such a test as early as next month have appeared in other U.S. and Japanese newspapers, citing unidentified officials. Concern was fanned after North Korea test fired a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan on May 1.

Five days later, the South Korean government, whose capital Seoul is only 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border with its communist neighbor, said the issue of trying to find a peaceful, diplomatic solution to North Korea's nuclear-weapons development has reached a ``critical stage.''

The six nations have been at an impasse since the leadership in Pyongyang admitted the nation had broken a 1994 agreement and continued a nuclear weapons-development program. There have been three rounds of talks in Beijing, yielding no agreement.

The communist North, which relies on overseas aid to feed its 22 million people, may already have 10 nuclear weapons, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group estimated in November. North Korea, whose economy is on the verge of collapse after decades of famine and government mismanagement, has said its nuclear arsenal is to deter a planned attack by the U.S.