US rejects North Korea's demand for nuclear status


A North Korean soldier using binoculars watches from his quarters at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone on April 23, 2013.


Kim Jae-Hwan

The US rejected outright North Korea's demand for nuclear status on Tuesday.

"North Korea's demand to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state is neither realistic nor acceptable," Thomas Countryman, US assistant secretary for international security and non-proliferation, told Reuters.

North Korea's state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper had said talks between the two states would only happen if the US and its allies stopped calling for its denuclearization.

"If the DPRK sits at a table with the US, it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons," the newspaper said. North Korea's official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

In both 2005 and 2007 the North said it would abandon nuclear arms in exchange for economic and food aid. However, the North continued nuclear tests.

In February, the North carried out its third nuclear bomb test, triggering harsh new UN sanctions against it. The North has since protested with bellicose rhetoric, threatening nuclear war against Japan, South Korea and the US.

"There may be talks between the DPRK and the US for disarmament but no talks on denuclearization," North Korea's Rodong Sinmun paper said Saturday

The continual rejection of pre-conditions for talks may not be seem like an auspicious sign, but it comes after a month of escalating military tensions.

As US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a Senate hearing, North Korea's list of conditions given last Thursday was "at least a beginning gambit." Still, he added, it was "not acceptable, obviously, and we have to go further."