N Korea still threat despite nuke rollback: South

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Seoul, Nov 7: The military threat posed by North Korea appears not to have decreased even though the reclusive state has taken its first steps to roll back its nuclear arms programme, South Korea's defence minister said today.

''Although it is true that North Korea has begun the process is disabling its nuclear programme, we cannot say that threat from North Korea has reduced tangibly or discernibly,'' Kim Jang-soo said after meeting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

On Monday, North Korea started to decommission its nuclear complex that produces arms grade plutonium as part of a disarmament-for-aid deal it reached with regional powers.

Kim said there was no intelligence to indicate the threat posed by North Korea had changed.

''What is certain is that North Korea is continuing to pursue the acquisition of asymmetrical weapons. We cannot conclude that the threat from North Korea has been reduced,'' Kim said at a joint news conference.

Kim and Gates discussed the South Korea-US security alliance and how the allies would counter the threat posed by North Korea's 1.2 million man military.

''The North Korean nuclear and conventional threat remains the focal point of our alliance for its deterrent and defence position,'' Gates said.


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