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Rumsfeld To Pyongyang: U-S Can Fight Two Wars - 2002-12-23


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says North Korea should not take advantage of the current U-S focus on Iraq, saying the United States can fight two wars at the same time.

Mr. Rumsfeld was commenting today (Monday) on North Korea's decision to remove United Nation's surveillance cameras at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. Asked by a reporter if he thought Pyongyang was trying to restart its nuclear weapons program while Washington is preoccupied with Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld said if that is Pyongyang's thought, it is mistaken.

The defense secretary said there should be no doubt that the United States can win decisively on two fronts. He said the United States is -- in his words -- perfectly capable of doing that which is necessary.

A State Department spokesman later added that the United States will not give in to blackmail and will never enter into dialogue in response to threats. Spokesman Philip Reeker said the United States also will not offer any inducement for North Korea to live up to its previous promises to keep the plant closed and surveillance cameras in place.

In 1994, the Clinton administration considered bombing the Yongbyon facility during a tense stand-off over North Korea's nuclear plans. That crisis led to the facility being shut down.

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