U.S. refuses to rule out war with N. Korea

May 4, 2003 at 4:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Sunday refused to rule out the possibility of war with North Korea.

When asked what would happen with the defiant Pyongyang, Rumsfeld responded: "I don't know what will happen there. The president obviously is on the track, and Secretary (of State Colin) Powell, of moving it toward the United Nations. China has been helpful recently. We'll have to see what path they decide to take," he told "Fox News Sunday."

However, Rumsfeld added, "The United States government ... has never really leapt up and ruled things out. It's not a helpful thing."

Rumsfeld admitted the government has a contingency plan for a U.S. response if North Korea launched a first-strike attack, but refused to discuss what the plan might look like. "Oh, I'm not going to get into what our contingency plans are, but certainly the responsibility of the president, and certainly the secretary of defense and the department, is to see that we are prepared to best serve the American people," he said.

In an interview Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Rumsfeld also refused to comment on whether the United States would launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea if it continues to pursue the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

"I'm not one that speculates about things like that. I know that back in the 1990s, in the Clinton administration, Secretary (of Defense Bill) Perry called in the former secretary of defense, and we had a discussion, and they clear(ly) had teed up a military option that they were considering ... but those are very serious issues, and I'll leave them for the president," Rumsfeld said.

North Korean radio broadcasting to South Korea Sunday vehemently denied U.S. claims that Pyongyang presents a threat, referring to the claims as "another version of slogan."

"The great leader, Comrade Kim Jong-il, taught as follows: No matter what deceptive trickery they may employ, the U.S. imperialists can never deceive the people of the DPRK (North Korea). What is called the talk of threat which the United States is babbling about is a fake," the report said, according to a translation by the British Broadcast Corp.

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