SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – A North Korean official warned that the communist nation could fire a nuclear-tipped missile unless the U.S. acts to resolve its standoff with Pyongyang, Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday.
“We hope the situation will be resolved before an unfortunate incident of us firing a nuclear missile comes,” the unnamed official said Monday, according to a Yonhap report from Beijing. “That depends on how the U.S. will act.”
Meanwhile, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan said international nuclear disarmament arms talks will not resume unless the U.S. changes its stance on the regime.
“No diplomatic offensive or military threats are likely to change the trend unless the U.S. withdraws hostility and pressure,” the Choson Sinbo wrote in a Pyongyang-datelined story. The newspaper is connected to a society of ethnic North Koreans in Japan linked to the Pyongyang regime.
“The six-way talks are deadlocked due to the U.S. pressure and there is no prospect for the resumption of talks,” the newspaper said. “North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons was an inevitable choice to counter the U.S. military threats.”
However, the North Korean official said the country was seeking direct talks with the U.S. “The nuclear test is an expression of our intention to face the United States across the negotiating table,” the official said.
Yonhap didn’t say how or where it contacted the official, who requested anonymity.
The official also dismissed moves at the U.N. Security Council to sanction the impoverished nation over its reported nuclear test.
“We have lost enough. Sanctions can never be a solution,” the official said. “We still have a willingness to give up nuclear weapons and return to six-party talks as well. It’s possible whenever the U.S. takes corresponding measures.”
The official didn’t elaborate on what the corresponding measures would be. But one of them is believed to be a long-standing North Korean demand that Washington lift financial restrictions imposed on the communist regime for its alleged counterfeiting and money laundering.
North Korea has cited the financial issue in boycotting nuclear disarmament talks with China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States. The talks last convened in November.
Washington has said the issue is unrelated to the nuclear talks, urging the North to return to the dialogue table without conditions.
Pyongyang declared Monday that it successfully tested a nuclear bomb.
The North Korean official said the test “is a result of the U.S. recklessly threatening a small and weak country.” The test strained the North’s relations with its main ally China, with Beijing swiftly denouncing Pyongyang. South Korea’s nuclear envoy also said Tuesday, after a trip to China, that Beijing appeared to be leaning toward backing sanctions against the North. But the North Korean official told Yonhap that China “won’t give up on us after all.”