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US Misleads Allies on DPRK's Nuclear Export: Paper

The United States has misled its Asian allies that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) had exported nuclear material to Libya, The Washington Post reported Sunday.  

In an attempt to increase pressure on Pyongyang, the Bush administration told its Asian allies in briefings early this year that the DPRK had exported nuclear material to Libya, the Post said.


The new charge was believed to be significant and represented the first allegation that the DPRK was helping to create a new nuclear weapon state.


However, it is not what US intelligence reported, the paper quoted two US intelligence officials as saying.


The DPRK had supplied uranium hexafluoride -- which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium -- to Pakistan, a key US ally in the war on terrorism, and it was Pakistan that sold the material to Libya, said the US intelligence officials with knowledge of the transaction.


The US government had no evidence that the DPRK knew of the second transaction, they added.


The transaction between the DPRK and Pakistan would not have been news to the US allies, which have known of such transfers for years and viewed them as a business between sovereign states, the officials said.


The Bush administration's approach has left its allies increasingly doubtful as they began to learn that the briefings omitted essential details about the transactions, and the DPRK responded to public reports last month about the briefings by withdrawing from the six-party talks, the paper said.


In an effort to repair the damage, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is traveling through East Asia this weekend trying to get the six-party talks back on track, the paper said.


The revelation of the so-called nuclear material transactions between the DPRK and Libya followed a series of controversies over the Bush administration's use of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction.


It also reminds the fact that despite US assertion prior to its invasion of Iraq that the Arab country had weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to the United States, no "smoking gun" has so far been found since the end of the Iraq war about 22 months ago.


The White House declined to offer an official to comment by name about the new details concerning Pakistan, the Post said. However, a prepared response attributed to a senior administration official said that the US government "has provided allies with an accurate account of North Korea's nuclear proliferation activities."


(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2005)

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