N. Korean Parliament OKs Nuclear Force
North Korean Parliament Supports Government Decision to Build Up Nuclear Capabilities

The Associated Press -- ABC News

SEOUL, South Korea Sept. 3 —
North Korea's parliament on Wednesday approved the communist government's decision to increase its "nuclear deterrent force" in angry reaction to what it calls a hostile U.S. policy.

The Supreme People's Assembly a rubber-stamp body for government policy also said it backed the Foreign Ministry's announcement last week that North Korea no longer had "interest or expectations" for future talks on its nuclear program, according to the North's official news agency KCNA.

KCNA also reported that the parliament "decided to take relevant measures." The news agency did not elaborate.

North Korea's envoy to the six-nation talks in Beijing on the North's nuclear crisis last week warned that the reclusive state might test a nuclear device to prove itself a nuclear power, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

Representatives from the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, China and Russia met last week in Beijing to discuss ways to end the nuclear crisis. After the meeting, China, North Korea's only remaining major ally, released a statement saying all six countries agreed to continue to talk.

But a day after the three-day Beijing meeting ended on Friday, North Korea's Foreign Ministry angrily dismissed the need for more talks and threatened to keep and strengthen its "nuclear deterrent force," casting doubt on the prospects for future meetings.

China's chief delegate to the negotiations said Monday that Washington's policy toward North Korea was one of the main obstacles in the talks.

"American's policy toward DPRK; this is a main problem we are facing," Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in the Philippines. He did not elaborate.

DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The North's newly elected parliament, which convened Wednesday, adopted a "decision" to support the ministry's decision, KCNA said.

The parliament also, as expected, re-elected leader Kim Jong Il to his government's top post, chairman of the National Defense Commission, which oversees the country's 1.1 million armed forces the world's fifth largest military.

The nuclear issue "has reached a grave phase due to the Bush administration's extremely hostile policy toward the DPRK," KCNA said.

The Beijing talks "offered the DPRK an opportunity to confirm that the Bush administration still intends to disarm the DPRK and use the multilateral talks for laying an international siege to the DPRK to isolate and stifle the DPRK," the parliamentary decision said.

North Korea says the United States must sign a nonaggression treaty, open diplomatic ties and provide economic aid before it can feel safe enough to dismantle its nuclear program. The United States insists that North Korea first scrap its nuclear program before Washington can consider providing security guarantees and help for its moribund economy.

North Korea denounced the U.S. demands as "brigandish."

Despite the North's threat to boycott future meetings, other participants said the six parties reached a tentative agreement to meet again around October.

On Tuesday, North Korea repeated its threat to increase its nuclear capabilities but also said that it is willing to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program "through dialogue."

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been high since October, when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted running a nuclear program in violation of international agreements.

Kim Jong Il, 61, has been chairman of the National Defense Commission since 1993, a year before his father, Kim Il Sung, died of heart failure in 1994. Five years later, he was re-elected to the post after the parliament made it the highest in government hierarchy.

Kim, who also holds titles of General Secretary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, rules the impoverished country of 22 million people with a personality cult inherited from his late father.