US warns N Korea of sanctions

TOKYO - The US Secretary of Defense, William Perry, yesterday threatened North Korea with immediate economic sanctions if it does not allow thorough international monitoring of a refuelling process at one of its nuclear reactors due to take place in the next few weeks, writes Terry McCarthy. The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna said North Korea had invited inspectors to be present at the refuelling but that the access proposed was limited.

Mr Perry, who has just completed a four-day visit to South Korea and Japan, said in Tokyo that US forces in South Korea would increase their readiness in the face of war threats from Pyongyang. The US and North Korea have been in dispute for months over the Communist regime's refusal to open its nuclear facilities to inspectors. The CIA believes North Korea already has material for two nuclear bombs, and according to Mr Perry it could produce up to 12 in a year.