N. Korea: We'll improve nuke arsenal under US pressure

Nuclear envoy: "The US is taking a tactic of both dialogue and pressure...We are responding with dialogue and a shield."

Kim Kye Gwan 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Kim Kye Gwan 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
North Korea's nuclear envoy said Friday the communist nation would bolster its atomic arsenal in response to US pressure, after the latest international talks on Pyongyang's weapons ended without any breakthrough. When asked if the country would conduct further nuclear tests following its Oct. 9 detonation, Kim Kye Gwan said the North was continuing to enhance its atomic capabilities. "The US is taking a tactic of both dialogue and pressure, and carrots and sticks," Kim told reporters. "We are responding with dialogue and a shield. And by a shield, we are saying we will further improve our deterrent." The North ended a 13-month boycott of the talks after the US agreed to discuss its campaign to isolate the communist nation from the international financial system for alleged financial crimes, including counterfeiting and money laundering. Separate talks this week on that issue in Beijing failed to bridge differences between the sides. The six-nation nuclear talks ended Friday after five days of meetings in Beijing without any progress on steps for the North's disarmament, and no new meeting was scheduled for the countries - which also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Delegates said the North Koreans refused to talk about anything besides the financial restrictions. "We have requested the US to release the sanctions first and then go into a discussion on substantive issues for the implementation" of a September 2005 agreement where the North pledged to disarm, Kim said Friday evening. "How can (North Korea) go into such an important discussion on halting the nuclear facilities and also giving up the deterrent which is aimed at safeguarding our sovereignty under such pressure from the United States?" Kim asked. Kim called on the United States to take the first step by dropping the sanctions to build trust between the two countries, which he said would "create a good atmosphere" for putting the earlier disarmament agreement into effect. However, the US has insisted the issues are to be resolved separately and the financial issues are a law enforcement matter unrelated to the North's pledge to abandon atomic development.