July 4, 2006

US: N.Korea may want nuclear spotlight from Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea's test-firing of a
long-range missile in defiance of world pressure may have been
aimed at stealing the nuclear spotlight away from Iran, U.S.
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said on Tuesday.

"Obviously, it is a bit of an effort to get attention,
perhaps because so much attention has been focused on the
Iranians," Hadley told reporters.

But like many U.S. officials, he said it was impossible to
be sure about the secretive communist state's motives.

"It's very difficult to know what the North Koreans think
they are doing this for," Hadley said.

Iran has been the main focus of U.S. nuclear diplomacy in
recent months.

Washington has pressed a recalcitrant Tehran to suspend
uranium enrichment that the United States says is to develop
nuclear weapons but the Iranians say is for civilian power.

The United States and five other world powers have demanded
Tehran respond this week to an offer of incentives to curb its
nuclear fuel program.

But Hadley, President George W. Bush's chief adviser on
national security, said the United States hoped Iran and North
Korean would draw the same lesson.

"In both cases, Iran and North Korea, even though the
constellation of players may be a little different, the
international solidarity is the same and the message that we do
not want a nuclear North Korea or a nuclear weapon-armed Iran,
that message is the same message," he said.

Asked whether the North Koreans were trying to send
Washington a message to mark America's Independence Day, White
House spokesman Tony Snow said: "I'd rather not try to read the
mind of a leader ... in a non-transparent society."

He insisted that whatever the motivation, "North Korea has
isolated themselves."