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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

North Korea Admits to Nuclear Program

WASHINGTON -- In a startling revelation, North Korea has told the United States it has a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of a 1994 agreement with the United States, the White House said.

Spokesman Sean McCormack called the North Korean disclosure a serious infringement of the agreement, under which Pyongyang promised not to develop nuclear weapons.

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said North Korea told U.S. officials that it was no longer bound by the anti-nuclear agreement.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said late Wednesday the United States had been ready to offer North Korea economic and other benefits if Pyongyang agreed to curb missile programs, end threats and change its behavior in other ways.

"In light of our concerns about the North's nuclear weapons program, however, we are unable to pursue this approach," Boucher said.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters Thursday he could make no comment on the U.S. charges until after discussions with North Korea and other states.

"We will conduct appropriate consultations, including with our partners from North Korea, and after that we will have the information needed to comment on these statements," Ivanov said.

North Korea's nuclear weapons program remains shrouded in mystery because the country has not been open to UN inspectors since 1994, the UN nuclear monitoring agency said Thursday.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency has been pressing the North Koreans to agree to an inspection regime, but Pyongyang has resisted and experts can only guess at the sophistication of its nuclear program, said spokesman Mark Gwozdecky.

McCormack said the United States is consulting with it allies, South Korea and Japan, and with members of Congress on next steps.

"We seek a peaceful resolution of this situation," McCormack said. "Everyone in the region has a stake in this issue and no peaceful nation wants to see a nuclear-armed North Korea."

"The United States and our allies call on North Korea to comply with its commitments under the non-proliferation treaty and to eliminate its nuclear weapons program in a verifiable manner."

South Korea on Thursday confirmed it has been consulting with the United States and Japan on the issue, and urged North Korea by international anti-nuclear agreements.

The United States has been suspicious about North Korea's nuclear intentions for some time.

In Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's spokeswoman, Misako Kaji, said, "Japan is gravely concerned about the U.S. announcement North Korea is developing nuclear weapons."

She said Koizumi "will continue to press North Korea strongly on this matter."

Under the 1994 agreement, North Korea promised to give up its nuclear weapons program and to allow inspections to verify that it did not have the material needed to construct such weapons. It has yet to allow the inspections . (AP, Reuters)