North Korea 'confident' of nuclear stand-off victory

North Korea today boasted that it would win its nuclear stand-off with the United States because of its “ultra hard-line” military stance.

“In the North Korea-US nuclear stand-off, which the world is watching with sweating hands, we were always ultra hard-line and that ultra hard-line response is the response of the mighty army-first policy,” the North’s state-run Central Radio said.

“The victory in the nuclear conflict is ours, and the red flag of the army-first policy will flutter ever more vigorously,” the broadcast said.

Washington and its allies are putting pressure on North Korea to abandon its suspected nuclear weapon programmes.

But the North has insisted on direct talks first with the United States, and has also demanded a non-aggression treaty.

Kim Jong II rules the reclusive communist state as supreme commander of the nation’s 1.1 million-member military. The country yesterday celebrated his 61st birthday, one of the nation’s biggest holidays, with anti-US diatribes and pledges of loyalty.

The crisis began in October when US officials said North Korea had admitted having a covert nuclear programme.

Washington and its allies suspended fuel shipments, and the North in turn expelled UN monitors, took steps to restart frozen nuclear facilities and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Pressure has been building on the communist state over the past week.

The International Atomic Energy Agency recently referred the dispute to the UN Security Council.

The council could consider economic sanctions against North Korea. The North has said it would consider any sanctions as a declaration of war.

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