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N. Korea blames Libyan regime collapse on absence of nukes: outgoing British envoy

North Korean officials believe the Libyan regime would not have collapsed had it held on to its nuclear weapons, the outgoing British ambassador to Pyongyang said Wednesday, casting doubt on the likelihood that the North will relinquish its nuclear capabilities.

The remarks by Ambassador Peter Hughes came as South Korea and the United States have been holding a rare series of talks with the North on a possible resumption of the long-stalled six-party denuclearization process.

“I have had discussions with high-level officials, who have made clear to me their view that if Colonel Gadhafi had not given up his nuclear weapons, then NATO would not have attacked his country,” Hughes said, referring to the toppled Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled his country with an iron fist for 42 years.

The ambassador was speaking at a panel discussion in Seoul hosted by the Gwanhun Club, a fraternity of senior Korean journalists. He was briefly visiting South Korea on his way home to Britain after recently completing a three-year tenure in Pyongyang.

“The North Korean regime has made very clear that their overriding policy is total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “You have to look behind that to find out what it means. It basically means in real terms that there would have to be total denuclearization of the world before they will give up their nuclear weapons.”

Defying international calls for its denuclearization, North Korea revealed a uranium enrichment facility last November in a possible indication of a second way to build atomic bombs, in addition to its known plutonium-based program.

Hughes ruled out any possibility of a Libyan-style revolt in North Korea, saying the authorities tightly control any flow of information within and across the borders.

“There is no civil society, there’s no center of dissent, there’s no intellectual grouping, there’s no way of actually communicating outside of the mobile phone,” he said.

“In terms of collective action, there is also a very repressive and tight security regime. Travel is almost impossible without permission, even from one village to the next. So we cannot see a circumstance in which it will be possible to generate a collective action.” (Yonhap News)
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