SEOUL -- The top US arms control official said North Korea was an evil regime
which had defied US warnings to become the world's worst proliferator of ballistic
John Bolton, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, also said Pyongyang's refusal to cooperate with nuclear inspectors was putting a landmark US-North Korean deal at risk.
In a speech in Seoul, Bolton defended President George W. Bush's branding of North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, as part of an "axis of evil" bent on spreading weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton talks during a speech for the Korean-American
Association at the hotel in Seoul Thursday, Aug. 29, 2002. Bolton said North Korea
must quickly allow U.N. inspectors to determine whether it has been building nuclear
bombs or place at risk a key 1994 accord on the construction of reactors to supply
it with electricity. Bolton also condemned the North as "an evil regime that
is armed to the teeth, including weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles."
(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
"It was factually correct," Bolton said of the controversial term Bush first used in January.
"There is a hard connection between these regimes -- an 'axis 'along which
flow dangerous weapons and dangerous technology," he said, adding that North Korea
had provided Iran with missiles and technology for years.
He denounced Pyongyang as "an evil regime that is armed to the teeth including with weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles".
He said missiles and related technology exports had been North Korea's principal source of fundraising for years.
Bolton said: "This administration has repeatedly put the North on notice that it must get out of the business of proliferation. Nonetheless, we see few, if any, signs of change on this front."
Pyongyang has taken tentative economic reform steps in recent weeks to emerge from its isolationist shell, but Washington has remained skeptical of the North's motives.
"Without sweeping restructuring to transform itself and its relations with the world, the North's survival is in doubt," said Bolton.
He also warned a nuclear reactor project in North Korea was unlikely to be completed by 2005, a deadline which has been already pushed back two years from the original target.
The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have demanded
that North Korea allow special inspections of its nuclear facilities.
But North Korea has refused to allow the inspections until key nuclear reactor components arrive on its soil.
Under a 1994 deal to head off a nuclear crisis, a US-led consortium agreed to build two light water nuclear reactors in North Korea by 2003. In return, the North agreed to freeze its suspected nuclear weapons program.
But the communist state is suspected of having secretly secured weapons-grade plutonium from its old nuclear reactors before the agreement. The US-backed IAEA has sought to verify the issue.
Bolton recalled a US intelligence report saying North Korea had processed "enough plutonium for at least one and possibly two nuclear weapons" -- a claim denied by Pyongyang.
He was also concerned about North Korea's biological and chemical warfare capabilities.
"In regard to chemical weapons, there is little doubt that North Korea has an active program," he said, citing the South's defense ministry estimates of 2,500 tons of stockpiled lethal chemicals.
"The US government believes that North Korea has one of the most robust offensive
bioweapons programs on earth," he added.
Copyright 2002 AFP