U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker warned Friday that Washington has become tired of North Korea’s “serial provocation” over its nuclear weapons program and urged the reclusive state to agree to a second round of multilateral talks.
“Sooner or later, patience expires,” Baker said in a lecture at a Tokyo hotel. “I wonder if our friends in North Korea understand how close they may come to that.”
He said the international community has been “remarkably patient” with Pyongyang’s provocative stance, which he added was simply calculated to challenge the U.S., South Korea, Japan and other countries.
“I wonder if the North Korean government understands what a deadly serious game they are playing,” he said.
During a trilateral meeting with the U.S. and China in April, North Korea claimed it possesses nuclear arms and said it has reprocessed 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods.
Baker said the U.S. government is committed to a peaceful solution, but he did not rule out a possible military attack if the North refuses to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
“While (a diplomatic solution) is our wish, no option is off the table,” he said.
Baker further urged North Korea to allow international inspectors to monitor its nuclear program and rejoin the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
He said it is unlikely that Washington will support the completion of light-water reactors under a 1994 agreement if North Korea does not dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
The Korean Peninsula Energy Development was set up under the 1994 Agreed Framework to provide two light-water reactors to North Korea and heavy fuel oil in return for a freeze on its nuclear weapons program.
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