North Korea against more talks, wants more atomic arms
SEOUL, Aug 30 -- North Korea said on Saturday the hardline U.S. stance at the Beijing nuclear negotiations meant there was no point in holding further talks and left it with no choice but to enhance its nuclear deterrent force.
China -- North Korea's closest ally and organiser of last week's six-way talks -- sought to keep the momentum for dialogue going.
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told the North's KCNA news agency Washington had adopted a harder line at the talks and had demanded Pyongyang "drop its gun first."
"How can the DPRK trust the U.S. and drop its gun?" the spokesman said, using the initial letters of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "Even a child would not be taken in by such a trick."
China, which used unprecedented diplomatic leverage to arrange the meeting, said it hoped the talks aimed at defusing the nuclear crisis would continue, as agreed on Friday. It also repeated its opposition to nuclear weapons on the divided Korean peninsula, but stopped short of condemning the North's comments.
"We hope all parties will continue to make efforts and continue the process of dialogue," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
But the North Korean spokesman said the Beijing talks -- also attended by China, Japan, Russia and South Korea -- were a trick aimed at disarming the isolated communist state.
The U.S. delegation had hardened its stance by saying it would negotiate fully with North Korea only once the North had scrapped its nuclear development programme, he said.
"This means the U.S. asking the DPRK to drop its gun first, saying it would not open fire, when both sides are levelling guns at each other," it said.
It said the talks had been reduced to an "armchair argument" that convinced the North Washington did not intend to change.
"This made it impossible for the DPRK to have any interest or expectation for the talks as they are not beneficial to it," the spokesman said in KCNA's English-language version.
The earlier Korean-language text said: "We are not interested at all in this kind of talks."
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It was not clear whether the spokesman's comments signalled a formal change in policy from Friday's agreement to talk again or was part of Pyongyang's rhetorical repertoire. The English-language version was ambiguous enough to refer to this week's talks rather than future meetings.
Earlier, an unidentified North Korean delegate to the talks made similar remarks to reporters at Beijing airport. He said he saw no need for further discussions.
But analysts dismissed the delegate's comments as posturing by the North, which typically steps up its rhetoric or makes conflicting statements to try to confuse its opponents or win concessions. The same could be true of the ministry remarks.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman's comments on increasing North Korea's nuclear deterrent force were somewhat clearer, but did not state directly that the North already has nuclear weapons, as the United States suspects.
A commentary in the official newspaper Minju Joson said every country had a right to defend itself and went further than the ministry by saying the North already had a nuclear force.
"The DPRK's nuclear deterrent force is a means for self-defence which it was compelled to build to cope with the situation in which the sovereignty of the country was seriously infringed upon due to the evermore undisguised U.S. moves to stifle it with nukes," the newspaper said.
Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, the head of the U.S. delegation, told reporters the talks had been productive but there was a long way to go before the crisis was defused.
It began last October when Kelly confronted the North with evidence of its secret nuclear programme. Washington said the North confirmed it had the covert project.
The crisis deepened after the isolated North threw out U.N. inspectors, pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and took its Yongbyon nuclear plant out of mothballs.
Pyongyang has frequently used bluster when discussing its nuclear capabilities. U.S. officials have said North Korea raised the rhetoric on Thursday by talking about carrying out a test and saying it could declare itself a nuclear power.
"The contradiction is a manoeuvre and consistent with North Korea's pattern of behaviour in the past," said Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at Beijing's People's University.