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2003-04-24 - 3:56 p.m.

:::Here We Go Again: More War Drums:::

North Korea

N. Korea's Pyongyang admits they have nukes. They wanted a one-to-one talk with the US, but their request was denied. Talks broke down during the US-China-Korea meeting on Wednesday. In a report from MSNBC, the KCNA news agency in N. Korea had the following to say: "The situation on the Korean Peninsula is so tense that a war may break out any moment due to the U.S. moves."

It said relations with the United States had hit “rock bottom” because President Bush named North Korea as part of an “axis of evil,” along with Iran and Iraq.

KCNA said the war in Iraq had shown the only way for a country to protect itself was to have a strong military deterrent. Officials from Seoul and Washington say the swift U.S.-led victory in Iraq prompted North Korea to agree to the nuclear talks.

The North’s Korea People’s Army vowed to “put all people under arms and turn the whole country into a fortress” and urged its soldiers to become “human bombs and fighters ready to blow up themselves” to protect leader Kim Jong Il.

“If the U.S. imperialists and their followers intrude into even an inch of the inviolable sky, land and sea of the (North) ... the (army) will deal merciless deadly blows at the aggressors,” North Korean Defense Minister Kim Il Chol was quoted as saying by KCNA.

Iran

The International Herald Tribune reports today that the US has warned Iran to stay out of Iraq and to stop trying to influence the developing government in Iraq.

"We've made clear to Iran that we would oppose any outside interference in Iraq's road to democracy," said the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer. "Infiltration of agents to destabilize the Shiite population would clearly fall into that category. That is a position we have made clear to Iran."

"There is no love lost between the Iraqi people and Iran," he noted. The two countries fought a vicious war from 1980 to 1988. "Any efforts by the Iranians to create an outsider's view" of the form of government that takes shape in Iraq, Fleischer said, "is not likely to have much success."

In other news, Iran's Kharazi has told the US to keep its troops on the Iraqi side of the border between Iran and Iraq.

Kharazi also voiced concern over a reported deal between Washington and the Iraq-based People's Mujahedeen guerrillas -- officially considered a "terrorist organisation" by the United States, the European Union and Iran.

"If this news that they can stay there and keep their arms is correct, this will expose the Amercian's plans for the region and it would be contrary to international law. The United States should be responsible for this," Kharazi said at a joint press conference with his French coupterpart Dominique de Villepin.

Iraq

The situation in Iraq is heating up at a fevered pace. The Shias who make up the majority of Muslims in Iraq are not only opposed to the occupying America troops in Iraq and the Sunnis, but as reported in The Independent, Schisms have also began to appear among the Shias: the followers of the late Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr – who now follow his son Muqtadar – are lining up against Ayatollah al-Hakim, who now runs Karbala, and Ayatollah Ali Hamid al-Sistani, in Najaf.

The Shias are also calling for the US to leave Iraq. They believe that the US is just there to control them and take their oil. The Shias make the Bush Administration very nervous, especially since the majority of Muslims in Iran are also Shias. They do not want an American style government in their country; instead they are calling for an Islamic Iraq.

One has to ponder just what role the Shias will play in the upcoming months. According to Robert Dreyfuss of the American Prospect, As a Shia power, Iran has vast influence among the Shi'a majority in Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain, with the large Shi'a population in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich eastern province and among the warlords of western Afghanistan. And Iran's ties to the violent Hezbollah guerrillas, whose anti-American zeal can only be inflamed by the occupation of Iraq, will give the Bush administration all the reason it needs to expand the war on terrorism to Tehran.

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