Rejecting a U.S. precondition for talks, North Korea said on Saturday that it would not give up its nuclear weapons program, two days after it set preconditions for the U.N., the U.S. and South Korea to begin dialogue.
"The U.S. should not think about the denuclearization on the peninsula before the world is denuclearized," North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary, as reported by the Reuters news agency.
"There may be talks between the DPRK [North Korea] and the U.S. for disarmament but no talks on denuclearization," it said.
On Thursday, Pyongyang had demanded to lift the U.N. sanctions and to end the joint U.S.-South Korea military drills before starting peace talks. It added that Seoul must stop all anti-North Korea rhetoric, referring to a cyber attack on South Korean broadcasters and banks last month, which Seoul blamed on its hostile northern neighbor. Additionally, it asked the U.S. to withdraw all nuclear weapons assets from South Korea and the region.
Tensions in the Korean peninsula have been escalating ever since Pyongyang was condemned by the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear test in February.
Pyongyang opposes the fresh U.N. sanctions following the test and two months of joint U.S.-South Korean field exercises that began on March 1.
The U.S. has about 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against potential North Korean aggression.
The U.S. said it was awaiting “clear signals” that North Korea would halt its nuclear weapons activities, before starting the dialogue.
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who visited China, South Korea and Japan this month, told a Senate hearing that Pyongyang’s conditions for talks was “at least a beginning gambit,” but added that it was “not acceptable, obviously, and we have to go further.”
The Rodong Sinmun termed the U.S. talk of dialogue as “nothing but rhetoric.”
China’s foreign ministry said on Friday that it will send its special envoy on North Korea, Wu Dawei, to the U.S. next week for talks on maintaining peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.
Wu will also discuss denuclearization of the region, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, as reported by Reuters. The visit is at the invitation of Glyn Davies, Washington's special representative on North Korea, Hua said.