N. Korea slams ‘hostile’ U.S., says to boost nuclear deterrent

Pyongyang says U.S. stymied its efforts to find ‘negotiated settlement’ on its nuclear program

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North Korea on Wednesday slammed the United States for blocking denuclearization talks with “absurd preconditions” that would only prompt Pyongyang to bolster its nuclear deterrent capacity.

In a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Pyongyang’s search for a “negotiated settlement” on its nuclear program was being stymied by a “hostile” U.S. policy.

The statement was in response to comments Monday by the U.S. pointman on North Korea Glyn Davies, who hinted at more sanctions against Pyongyang in the wake of the interim deal to cap Iran’s nuclear program.

The North’s spokesman said Davies’ remarks reflected U.S. opposition to Beijing and Pyongyang’s calls for a resumption of six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Washington insists the talks -- dormant since 2008 -- can only resume once the North demonstrates a commitment to denuclearization.

“The U.S. improper behavior of deliberately creating obstacles in the way of resuming the talks under absurd preconditions will always be blamed,” the spokesman said.

North Korea “will be compelled to steadily bolster deterrence as long as the US becomes all the more undisguised in pursuing hostile moves,” he added.

The stalled six-party process involves China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia.

Davies told reporters in Tokyo that Pyongyang’s attempts to restart dialogue while keeping its nuclear program running were unacceptable.

“If they do not act to demonstrate that they understand they must fulfill their obligations and give up their nuclear weapons, then there is more pressure that will be brought to bear on them,” he said.

North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests since the first in 2006 -- the last, and most powerful, in February this year.

During Davies’ week-long tour of Northeast Asia, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program for the next six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in a preliminary accord led by the United States.

Davies warned that it was difficult to draw direct comparisons between North Korea and Iran, but highlighted the fact that the use of sanctions led to success with Tehran.