Dismantling of N. Korean nuclear program suspended

Less than two months after blowing up the cooling tower of its main nuclear plant in a televised spectacle, North Korea announced Tuesday it had suspended the dismantling of its nuclear program.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry said it was responding to U.S. delays in taking it off a list of “terror-sponsoring” states. The ministry said suspension began Aug. 14 and that the regime will next consider restoring what has been dismantled already at the main nuclear compound in Yongbyon.

President Bush asked Congress June 27 to take North Korea off the terror list, but the administration has said the measure wouldn't go through until the U.S. could verify a 60-page inventory North Korea submitted of its nuclear program.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made that point Tuesday: “We have made very clear … that we were awaiting a verification mechanism that could assure the accuracy of the statements that North Korea made in its declaration.”

She said the U.S. is in talks with North Korea and that, “we'll just see where we come out in a few weeks.”

North Korea said insistence on verification infringed on its sovereignty.

“The U.S. is gravely mistaken if it thinks it can make a house search in (North Korea) as it pleases just as it did in Iraq,” its statement said.