SEOUL – Reclusive North Korea, which rattled regional security with a threat to hold a second nuclear test, said on Saturday it would not hold talks with its wealthy South Korean neighbor because it defiled Pyongyang's dignity.
The North a day earlier dismissed an overture from the United States for discussions, saying it was useless to talk to the Obama administration because its hostile policy left it no choice but to bolster its nuclear deterrent.
The United States sent Stephen Bosworth, its envoy for North Korea, to Asia this week to rein in the secretive communist state after it raised tension with a defiant rocket launch a month ago and then threatened to step up its nuclear weapons program.
There is no room for talks with the South Korea government group who publicly defiles the name of our republic and denies our entity, the North's KCNA news agency quoted a spokesman with its reunification committee as saying.
Isolated and impoverished North Korea for years has used its military threat to squeeze concessions out of the international community while telling its masses to put the military first and consider self-reliance a virtue.
Analysts said the North, already hit by U.N. sanctions for a missile test in July 2006 and its first nuclear test a few months later, is not worried about further punishment and wants to increase its negotiating leverage with U.S. President Barack Obama through a series of provocations.
North Korea has mostly suspended dialogue with South Korea in anger at the policies of President Lee Myung-bak, who came to office a year ago and ended a free flow of unconditional aid and instead tied handouts to progress Pyongyang makes in ending its nuclear ambitions.
A South Korean official familiar with the North told Reuters on Friday there was increased activity at North Korea's known nuclear test site, suggesting it was gearing up for a new test.
Experts said it could take a few weeks for North Korea to prepare for another test, which they said was inevitable because the first test was only a partial success, indicating possible problems with the North's nuclear weapons design.
Politically, North Korea wants to play out its test preparations, many of which can be seen by U.S. spy satellites, for as long as possible to increase its leverage in nuclear negotiations, which means it may not come for months, if at all.