Thursday, January 02, 2003

President Bush declared today that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, brought his country's desperate economic straits and the current nuclear confrontation with the West upon himself, and the president insisted that the United States was still determined to assure "the Korean Peninsula to be nuclear weapons-free."

In his most direct public criticism of Mr. Kim since the crisis began, Mr. Bush described the reclusive North Korean leader today as "somebody who starves his people" and who knowingly violated the 1994 agreement with the United States to forgo nuclear weapons in return for energy aid. "We've got a great heart," Mr. Bush said, noting America's food donations to North Korea, "but I have no heart for somebody who starves his folks."
North Korea is, it seems, making the Bush attack on Iraq more problematic:
Several Security Council members say they want to press the United States to approach Saddam Hussein the way he is approaching Mr. Kim: With the threat of increasing economic pressure, but not military force. Mr. Bush and his aides insist that the two situations are not comparable, and that after 11 years of defiance of the United Nations, Mr. Hussein deserves a military attack unless he voluntarily gives up weapons of mass destruction.

But in private, several of Mr. Bush's advisers acknowledge that the North Korean crisis has complicated their diplomatic task.

"We will be facing considerable skepticism on the question of how we can justify confrontation with Saddam when he is letting inspectors into the country, and a diplomatic solution with Kim when he's just thrown them out," one senior diplomat acknowledged today. "And we're working on the answer."

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