North Korea Demands Recognition As A Nuclear Arms State Before Dialogue With US, South Korea

on April 23 2013 5:13 AM

North Korea on Tuesday said the U.S. and South Korea must recognize it as a nuclear-weapons state as a pre-requisite for any dialogue. 

North Korean State newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported that North Korea rejected the U.S. and South Korea's demand that it dismantle its nuclear weapons program and suspend missile launches “as groundless and unacceptable.” 

"If the DPRK sits at a table with the U.S., it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons," the newspaper said.

The U.S. has maintained that the North needs to show that it is serious about abandoning its nuclear programs in order for the talks to be meaningful, Reuters reported.

North Korea has been defiant against the U.S. and international pressure against its nuclear weapon program. It claims that nuclear weapons are their "treasured sword," which they will never give up.

Pyongyang has in recent weeks intensified its blistering rhetoric against the U.S. and South Korea after the United Nations expanded sanctions against the North over its third nuclear test in February. It recently declared that it is prepared to wage nuclear war against both countries, and its vitriolic language has increased tensions in the Korean peninsula.

However, in the past week, the North has positively responded to calls for dialogue between the Koreas and the U.N., lowering some of the pressure the situation is causing internationally.  

Pyongyang last Thursday gave a set of demands -- including the lifting of sanctions -- to the United Nations and South Korea as preconditions for starting any kind of dialogue, to which the White House responded by saying it needs clear signals from the North that it is ready to abandon its nuclear ambitions before dialogue can commence. 

Meanwhile, an AFP report suggested that the U.S. will consider a new request from the North to resume the food aid that has been stalled since 2009, but only if the North allows the distribution process in the country to be monitored by U.S. staff.

"Our policy in providing humanitarian assistance is based on conditions of need," U.S. Ambassador Robert King, a special envoy for North Korean Human Rights, told journalists on Monday.

"If there were a request for assistance, it's something I'm sure that we would look at," King said, according to the AFP.

North Korea has a long history of signing bilateral agreements for aid and later breaking the agreements when it suits its interests.

The U.S. has about 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against potential North Korean aggression.

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