By Na Jeong-ju
Former President Kim Young-sam said Monday the United States prepared for an attack on North Korea in 1994 when the communist regime was beginning to produce plutonium at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.
``At the time, the U.S. Navy's 33 destroyers and two aircraft carriers were waiting for an order in the East Sea to bomb the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon,'' Kim said in a radio program. ``I strongly opposed the military action because I thought it could lead to a full-fledged war on the Korean Peninsula. The United States would have gone ahead with the strike without my objection.
``It was a touch-and-go situation,'' recalled Kim, who served as president from 1993 to 1998.
Later, the communist country agreed with the United States to freeze nuclear development programs in return for aid and a security guarantee. Washington and Pyongyang signed the deal after former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited Pyongyang and met with then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.
Former President Kim said he and then U.S. President Bill Clinton established a hotline between the White House and Cheong Wa Dae to tackle the situation.
``Clinton proposed the hotline to have a secret conversation with me at any time. Due to wiretapping risks, the White House set it up directly at Cheong Wa Dae,'' Kim said. ``It still exists, but I wonder if it is being used these days.''
Kim said he and Clinton talked over the phone at all hours.
``Despite the time differences between Washington and Seoul, we called each other day and night to solve the North Korean nuclear issue. I did not care about answering the phone in bed and neither did Clinton,'' he said.