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N. Korea Reacts to ‘Evil Axis’ Remark

January 31, 2002

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korea on Friday called President Bush’s denunciation that the communist country is part of an ``axis of evil″ little short of a declaration or war.

``The option to ‘strike’ impudently advocated by the U.S. is not its monopoly,″ a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said. North Korea, it said, ``will never tolerate the U.S. reckless attempt to stifle the (North) by force of arms but mercilessly wipe out the aggressors.″

The statement, carried by the North’s official news agency KCNA and monitored in Seoul, was the regime’s first reaction to Bush’s State of the Union speech Tuesday.

In the speech, Bush said North Korea, Iran and Iraq formed an ``axis of evil,″ and that ``the United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.″

``This is, in fact, little short of declaring a war against the DPRK,″ or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the communist state’s official name, said the North Korean spokesman, who was not identified by name.

``We are sharply watching moves of the United States that has pushed the situation to the brink of war after throwing away even the mask of ‘dialogue’ and ’negotiations,‴ he said.

Since Bush’s inauguration, North Korea has regularly churned out similar hard-line rhetoric against Washington.

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