Korean threat still real - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Korean threat still real

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December 26, 2002

There's renewed concern tonight about North Korea and nuclear weapons.  The communist country apparently is getting ready to restart a nuclear plant that potentially could be used to develop weapons.

North Korea plans to reactivate its main nuclear complex in defiance of an international agreement. North Korea claims the plant will only be used to generate electricity, but critics aren't so sure. And Georgia's new U.S. Senator says North Korea isn't the only country that's a nuclear threat.

As a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, incoming Senator Saxby Chambliss will be closely watching North Korea. "There's no question but what North Korea is one of the axis of evil that the President has referred to," Chambliss said.

The President also gave that label to Iraq and Iran. "Iran is a very dangerous country because they just like Iraq are a rogue nation. They are a terrorist sponsoring nation."

Iran also may fire up nuclear facilities it claims have nothing to do with weapons,  and that concerns Chambliss. "It's critically important that we continue to watch what's going on in Iran."

Even though North Korea and Iraq are threats, Chambliss says the United States is focusing more on Iraq because of Saddam Hussein. "Iraq has a leader who does not like the United States and has been very open about the fact that he will use weapons to kill and destroy Americans."

North Korea may be less likely to pick a fight with the U.S. because the famine-stricken countries depends on American food imports and because the U.S. has strong ties to Japan and China; countries with close relationships with the Koreans.

"We do try to have a dialogue with the North Koreans about the issue. Hopefully, that will work, but I think we're kidding ourselves to think we can totally rely on that."

If Saddam Hussein is overthrown, Chambliss says America will begin to focus more and get tougher on North Korea. Senator-Elect Chambliss says the United States does have the ability to undertake military action against North Korea and Iraq at the same time if necessary.

posted at 5:55PM by dave.miller@walb.com