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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Assume North Korea won't give up nuclear weapons: Armitage


Staff writer

Japan should act on the assumption that North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Wednesday in Tokyo.

At a lecture sponsored by the nonprofit organization U.S.-Japan LINK, Armitage, an expert on Asian issues who advised ex-President George W. Bush until 2005, said countries shouldn't waste their time resolving the issue through diplomatic means.

"There is no possibility of Kim Jong Il giving up his nuclear weapons," he said, adding that the six-party talks on denuclearizing Pyongyang will probably produce nothing.

He also acknowledged that the U.S. approach to handling the North "wasn't done the way it should have been done."

Armitage said he would reinstate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism if there are any signs that suggest Pyongyang has spread its nuclear knowledge to other governments, and that tighter financial restrictions would also be appropriate to condemn the hermit state's nuclear test last month.

While the U.S. is highly unlikely to use "hard power" to solve the nuclear tension, it could consider a pre-emptive strike if it acquires solid intelligence about an imminent strike on Japan, South Korea or U.S. territory, he said.

The U.S. will be involved militarily if its allies come under attack, "and I say that without any hesitancy," Armitage said.

Regarding U.S.-Japanese ties, Armitage expressed hope that Tokyo plays a larger role as Washington's partner.

Armitage said the new piracy law, which is expected to clear the Diet later this month, is a "tremendous step in the right direction."

Revising the government's interpretation of collective defense should also be discussed if Tokyo is to participate in protecting global interests, he said.

Relist North: Saiki

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Japan's chief delegate to the six-party talks on denuclearizing North Korea on Tuesday backed calls for the United States to put Pyongyang back on its list of terrorism-sponsoring nations.

Akitaka Saiki, director general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told reporters that he hopes the U.S. will make "some political decision" and restore North Korea's status as a sponsor of terrorism.

"Japan will give considerable attention to what the United States decides," said Saiki.



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