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N Korea claims to have nukes -

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N Korea claims to have nukes

Reporter: Norman Hermant

TONY JONES: North Korea dropped a bombshell of its own today, telling the world for the first time
in an official statement that it has developed nuclear weapons. Pyongyang says it needs the weapons
for self-defence in the face of continued threats from the US. North Korea also says it's pulling
out of six-party talks aimed at convincing it to abandon its nuclear program, and it has no plans
to resume negotiations. Norman Hermant reports.

NORMAN HERMANT: As always, North Korea launched its latest salvo to gain maximum attention. For
years, it's boasted about nuclear weapons, but Pyongyang has never gone so far and so public as it
has in today's statement from its Foreign Ministry. "We had already taken the resolute action of
pulling out of the non-proliferation treaty", the statement said, "and have manufactured nuclear
weapons for self-defence to cope with the Bush administration's evermore undisguised policy to
isolate and stifle North Korea." Kim Jong Il is now telling the world what Washington has suspected
for more than two years.

MAN: I think we've unclassified the fact that they probably have one or two plutonium-based devices
today.

MAN: What is the likelihood that they currently have a missile capable of hitting the west coast of
the United States?

MAN: I think the declassified answer is: yes, they can do that.

NORMAN HERMANT: North Korea says it looked for signs of conciliation in what it calls "the second
Bush administration", but saw none. It also says it resents being labelled "an outpost of tyranny"
by new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. For those reasons, it says it's pulling out of
six-party talks aimed at convincing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program. "There is no
justification for us to participate in the six-party talks again, given that the Bush
administration termed North Korea - a dialogue partner - an outpost of tyranny." The statement went
on: "The US disclosed its attempt to topple the political system in North Korea at any cost,
threatening it with a nuclear stick." Countries that negotiate with North Korea are used to the
near-fanatical rhetoric that accompanies government statements. Reacting to Pyongyang's very public
claim that it did in fact have nuclear weapons, Japan's Prime Minister was restrained. Junichiro
Koizumi urged North Korea to return to six-party talks, adding, "Giving up nuclear weapons is for
the good of North Korea, and we need to keep on stressing this point." Tensions between Japan and
North Korea have been steadily rising, and threatened to boil over during a soccer match that took
place just before Pyongyang's nuclear announcement. North Korea lost, but it may have scored a
victory in its aim to put itself back at the centre of the nuclear debate.