U.S. "must not rush to war," says president.
OS ANGELES (AP) — Responding to the tragedy resulting from the decision of North Korea's leader Kim Jung Il to launch a Taepodong-2C missile into the heart of San Francisco, Bush administration officials vowed to negotiate vigorously with him until an agreement aimed at preventing another such occurrence can be reached.
"All he wants is attention," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "We can negotiate with him. He's not a nut."
Meanwhile, debris cleanup and removal of bodies in San Francisco continues. "Why did (Mr.) Bush let this happen? Why? Why?" asked an unidentified secretary in the late mayor's office. Mayor Gavin Newsom was among the first to perish in the explosion, which surviving witnesses described as a huge fireball that simultaneously engulfed several blocks around city hall. "He told me he was going downtown to perform a marriage ceremony. That was only ten minutes before the blast," said one of the mayor's special assistants. "It's all (Mr.) Bush's fault."
Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington have been especially strained in the last several weeks, with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea threatening to launch the Taepodong missile if the U.S. government didn't back away from its demand that North Korea refrain from launching it. "We have the right as a sovereign nation to launch whatever we want," said a spokesman for the North Korean head of state, whose official title is "Great Leader" or "Dear Leader." "If only (Mr.) Bush had tried to settle this matter diplomatically, we never would have felt that we had to make an example out of one of his cities. This is all the result of a five-year failure of American diplomacy."
North Korea's neighbor China said it regrets that events had to take such a tragic turn. "We are working with the DPRK to make sure that another misunderstanding like this one does not happen again," an official in Beijing said. He added that his government has already sent its condolences to the people of San Francisco who've had to "pay the price for (Mr.) Bush's stubbornness."
Asked whether North Korea would stop launching missiles at the U.S if the Bush administration gave it everything it demanded, a high ranking official in Kim Jung Il's national defense commission said "we may."
At the United Nations, Russian diplomats introduced a resolution in the Security Council which blames President Bush for "pushing the Korean situation to and over the brink" and turning it into an "unfortunate conflict." The draft resolution calls on all member states to impose sanctions on the United States as punishment for its "persistent warmongering."
During his televised address last night, Mr. Bush told the nation that "we must not rush to war" just because the downtown district of one of America's major cities has been destroyed. "Fortunately, we have plenty of other cities. I doubt even the so-called great leader of North Korea could take them all out." He concluded that "we will rebuild, we will recover, and we will always remember the thousands of victims of this unfortunate tragedy."
"Update:" SEOUL (LUNews) — In what is being viewed as an unprecedented show of spine, a series of attacks involving U.S. and coalition aircraft as well as sea-based cruise missiles have destroyed all known pads and other platforms from which North Korea's military had launched over a half-dozen medium to long-range ballistic missiles and was apparently planning to launch several more.
With its delivery capability all but wiped out after the overnight targeted bombings, the dictatorship's missile program is scrambling to find new uses for the remaining stockpile of rockets. The visage of the country's chief tyrant Kim Jung Il was painted on about ten rockets after they were moved to a hastily constructed "Victory Park" in Pyongyang. The despot himself appeared on state-run television declaring that the park and others like it "will forever commemorate our defeat of all the imperialistic ambitions of the West on our peninsula." He ordered that every North Korean home display a model of the Taepodong-2C missile "in some prominent place, preferably your dining areas, as a symbol and constant reminder of your dear leader's great might."
Before the attacks, South Korean forces were placed on high alert, especially along their country's already heavily armed border with North Korea. Although a number of similar troop movements on the other side had been observed the next morning, military spokesmen said those were never massive enough to be considered an invasionary force. "We've obviously overestimated the potential threat of DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) forces crossing the border following such an attack," said Republic of Korea Army colonel Chung Sunyeop during a press briefing. "There was mostly some switching of formations, or units exchanging positions along the border, to give the impression of a build up. But nothing showed they were receiving any significant reinforcements from the north; not much besides the normal trickle of food shipments has been observed."
The heads of state of China, Russia and Japan were each directly informed of the plans to take out North Korea's launch facilities — dubbed Operation Soaring Eagle — less than a half hour before the air and missile attacks began. Tokyo afterwards expressed "strong support" for the U.S.-led operation, while the response out of Beijing and Moscow was surprisingly muted. A spokeswoman for Russian president Vladimir Putin told reporters, "We had cautioned the leadership of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea about the consequences they might face should they decide to continue down this path (of preparing more missile launches). While the Russian government had hoped to achieve a diplomatic solution, Chairman Kim Jung Il regrettably chose to ignore our advise and to make that solution more difficult." Beijing lodged a relatively subdued protest with Washington, complaining that the Chinese government "should have been consulted much earlier" about the attacks. "If we had been able to deliver a strong hint (to North Korean officials) that such an attack was imminent, that might have compelled them to resume multiparty negotiations and allowed us to avoid this incident," its letter stated.
North Korea's despot Kim Jung Il is reportedly sending special envoys to both Moscow and Beijing to inform the governments there that he intends to press for "much more vigorous regional negotiations" rather than any bilateral talks.
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