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North Korea Denounces IAEA - 2003-02-14


North Korea has denounced the International Atomic Energy Agency for asking the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the dispute over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

In its first official response to the agency's decision made Wednesday, North Korea accused the UN nuclear panel of being "America's lapdog." It said the agency no longer has any jurisdiction over North Korea, since Pyongyang withdrew from the nuclear safeguards treaty last month.

The North also criticized the United States, accusing it of building up military forces along the Korean border. It offered no proof to support its allegation.

In Seoul, aides to South Korean President-elect Roh Moo-hyun said the country stands by the United States in its stand-off with North Korea. They said both Seoul and Washington want to see the nuclear crisis resolved peacefully through dialogue.

The 15-nation UN Security Council has the power to impose economic sanctions on North Korea -- a step Pyongyang has warned would be a declaration of war. North Korea has been seeking direct talks with the United States for months.

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