SEOUL, South Korea - A special envoy representing South Korea's incoming president plans to go to Washington this week to discuss North Korean nuclear activities amid revelations of possible fresh preparations by North Korea to build nuclear warheads, officials said here yesterday.
Chyung Dai Chul, who is advising President-elect Roh Moo Hyun on efforts to bring about an end to the crisis, will confer with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and hopes to meet President Bush in an effort to coordinate policy on North Korea, an aide said.
Roh, who succeeds President Kim Dae Jung on Feb. 25, has advocated moderation, urging negotiations between the United States and North Korea and indicating his opposition to U.S. efforts to bring the issue before the U.N. Security Council. During his visit to Washington, Chyung is expected to continue to argue for discussion.
The crisis on the Korean Peninsula appeared to heighten last week after U.S. officials reported that North Korean trucks were moving cargo from the nuclear complex at Yongbyon.
Officials suspected that the cargo might include 8,000 spent fuel rods that North Korea has removed from a cooling pond after saying it was no longer bound by the 1994 Geneva framework agreement under which it suspended work at the facility. The spent fuel rods, according to that analysis, could then yield plutonium for use in five or six nuclear warheads.
Neither the North nor the South has commented on the report, but North Korean television showed thousands of people attending anti-American rallies yesterday in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, looking at anti-American posters and listening to warnings of attack by the United States. North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency accused the United States of "inciting a war atmosphere" by sending hundreds of reconnaissance and fighter planes over the North.
North Korea, at the same time, adopted the opposite tack toward South Korea, defending President Kim Dae Jung as he faces intense criticism from conservatives after investigators confirmed a secret payment of nearly $200 million to the North before his June 2000 summit meeting with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il.
A senior North Korean official said in an interview with a South Korean television network broadcast yesterday that efforts at linking the money to the summit meeting were "a sinister plot."