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(LEAD) N. Korea condemns U.S. over air strikes on Libya

All Headlines 17:04 March 22, 2011

(ATTN: ADDS details throughout; RECASTS headline, lead)

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea denounced the United States on Tuesday for taking part in an international air raid campaign against Libya, praising its own military-first policy as a vital deterrent against invasion.

In an interview with the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), an unidentified North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson said the attack on Libya amounts to an infringement on national sovereignty and an inhumane crime against the people of Libya.

The statement marked the first reaction from North Korea over any political developments in the Arab world where popular uprisings have overthrown leaders in Egypt and Tunisia and led to a civil war in Libya since earlier this year.

"The truth that one should have power to defend peace has been confirmed once again," the spokesperson was quoted as saying, as he accused the U.S. of having removed nuclear arms capabilities from Libya through negotiations as a precursor to invasion.

"The Libyan crisis is teaching the international community a grave lesson," the spokesperson was quoted as saying, heaping praise on North Korea's songun, or military-first, policy.

The KCNA did not mention any other developments that have swept the Arab world. North Korea, which remains technically at war with the U.S. after the 1950-53 Korean War, argues it has developed nuclear arms to deter an American invasion.

Since last week, Western countries, including France and Britain, have conducted air strikes to stop Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from attacking civilians opposing his long-running dictatorship.

The raids, approved under a United Nations Security Council resolution, were the biggest intervention in the Arab world by the West since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. An air raid earlier this week flattened a building in the dictator's residential compound.

The U.S. said it would not deploy ground troops in Libya, but China, which abstained from voting in the U.N. resolution, has expressed regret over the use of force in international affairs.

Taking the lead of its top communist ally, North Korea accused the U.S. of abusing its power within the U.N. and said its songun policy can be justified "thousands and tens of thousands of times over."

North Korea is one of the most isolated countries in the world. It is widely accused of trampling on the human rights of its 24 million people. Experts discount the possibility of a popular uprising in the North as its civil society is too weak or nearly non-existent.


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