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News Briefs, part 1

North Korea Takes Tough Stance On its Nuclear Program

Los Angeles Times

BEIJING

Amid growing international tension over Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons development program, North Korean President Kim Il Sung declared Monday that his nation faces an "unprecedented'' political and economic crisis.

Kim's comments came one day after Pyongyang warned that any attempt to force it to accept special international inspections could touch off another Korean war.

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency met Monday in Vienna in an unprecedented private session to discuss North Korea's refusal to allow its investigators access to two nuclear waste sites.

North Korea, the world's most hard-line Communist state, acknowledges that it has a nuclear research program but denies that it is trying to develop weapons.

Analysis of material from six previous IAEA inspections in North Korea, permitted by Pyongyang, yielded "major inconsistencies'' on the quantity and quality of nuclear material in North Korea's possession, IAEA spokesman Hans-Friedrich Meyer said in Vienna.

The agency wants to send inspectors to the waste sites to resolve these inconsistencies, he said.

In Washington, a Department of State official said he expected the IAEA would meet in Geneva for another day or two before deciding what action to take.

"There's a general mood to see through a resolution (requiring IAEA inspections),'' the Department of State official said. He said neither Russia nor China -- North Korea's two neighbors -- is giving support to Pyongyang in its effort to resist the IAEA inspections.

Possible Deficit Reduction Driving Down Long-Term Interest Rates

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Long before American families and businesses feel any of the pain from the higher taxes or spending cuts proposed last week by President Clinton, the bond market has begun to provide the payoff that pain is supposed to produce.

Just the prospect that the government is finally moving to get control of federal budget deficits is driving down key longer-term interest rates, whose levels often determine whether a family can buy a home or a business will be able to build a new plant or purchase equipment.

Since Election Day, longer-term rates have dropped sharply, providing additional stimulus to the economy and making it easier for households and businesses to refinance high-cost debt and leave them more money to spend on other things. Heavy debt burdens have been cited as a major reason why the recovery from the 1990-91 recession until recently was far weaker than the usual rebound after a slump.

Monday rates on Treasury and corporate bonds continued to fall. For example, rates on 30-year U.S. Treasury bonds dropped to 6.93 percent, the lowest level since they were first issued on a regular basis in 1977. On several occasions recently the rate dipped close to 7 percent but could not manage to drop below what analysts called a major psychological barrier.

One development that helped the market Monday was a Treasury report that the government ran a budget surplus in January and that for the first four months of the current fiscal year had a deficit of $90.7 billion, down from fiscal 1992's October-January red ink figure of $99.5 billion.

Part of the smaller current deficit was also an indirect result of the Clinton proposals. To allow their employees to escape any increase in income taxes this year, many firms, particularly those on Wall Street, paid bonuses before the end of December that otherwise would have come in January. As a consequence, the recipients in many cases had to make higher estimated payments last month on their 1992 tax bill.

Weather

A Break in the Action

By Michael Morgan
Staff Meteorologist

After a serious of fairly significant snow events every other day oro, residents of the Northeast will get a break for the next three days. A slow moving cyclone (low pressure center) over New York state will drift eastward and finally away from the region late tommorow. The attendant clouds and light precipitation with this system will persist most of today, but clearing is in store for Wednesday. Colder weather will follow. There may yet be another big precipitation "event" for week's end.

You may have been wondering whether this year's snowfall has been unusually high. The long term average snowfall for Boston is about 42 inches (16.5 cm)during the period from December through April). From 1982 to 1992 Boston averaged 31.1 inches (12.2 cm) of snow during the December to April period. In recent years snowfall amounts have been under 30 inches (11.8 cm). So far we have about 40 inches (15.7 cm) of snow (with another month and a half of "snoawably" cold weather ahead).

Today: Mostly cloudy and a bit milder. High near 40F (4<\p>C). Winds shifting to northwest in the afternoon at speeds 10-15 mph (16-24 kph).

Tonight: Partly cloudy and colder with a few flurries. Low 20F (-7C).

Tomorrow: Variably cloudy and colder. High 24-28F (-4 to -2C). Low 18-24F (-8 to -4C).

Thursday: Sunny early with increasing clouds late. High 26-32F (-3 to 0C). Low 15F (-9C).