SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea (search) on Tuesday denied receiving nuclear weapons technology from Pakistan (search), and accused the United States of spreading false rumors ahead of crucial six-nation talks on ending the communist state's nuclear ambitions.
The founder of the Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan (search), was forgiven by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search) last Thursday after admitting that he had spread nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya through an international black market.
"This is nothing but a mean and groundless propaganda," a spokesman of the North Korean Foreign Ministry told Pyongyang's official news agency, KCNA.
The North Korea spokesman said the "U.S. smear campaign would only provide the DPRK with an opportunity to realize once again what a just measure it took to build nuclear deterrent force."
DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
The United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia are set to begin six-nation talks on Feb. 25 on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.
North Korea runs a nuclear weapons program using plutonium.
The United States also believes that North Korea has a separate program based on enriched uranium, possibly using technology imported from Pakistan. North Korea has denied the allegation.
"The United States is now hyping the story about the 'transfer of nuclear technology' to the DPRK by a Pakistani scientist in a bid to make the DPRK's 'enriched uranium program' sound plausible," the North Korean spokesman said. "This is aimed to ... scuttle the projected six-way talks for the present."
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who has been Beijing's point man on the North, will visit Seoul this week to lay the groundwork for the six-nation talks.
He will meet South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck during a three-day visit that starts Friday, the Foreign Ministry said.
The nuclear dispute flared in October 2002 when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted running the uranium-enriching program in violation of international agreements.