North Korea States Conditions For Nuclear Talks

Mark Stone, Asia Correspondent
North Korea States Conditions For Nuclear Talks

North Korea has announced conditions it says would lead to negotiations with America and the subsequent denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Just a week after it threatened 'all out war' with its southern neighbour, the regime in North Korea said that talks about denuclearisation could start if the United States first removed its nuclear weapons from the region.

Listing their conditions, the statement from the country's National Defence Commission said: "First, [the Americans and South Koreans] should immediately stop all their provocative acts against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and apologise for all of them.

"Second, they should give formal assurances before the world that they would not stage again such nuclear war drills to threaten or blackmail the DPRK.

"Third, they should make a decision to withdraw all nuclear war means from South Korea and its vicinity and give up their attempt to reintroduce them as their immediate duty.

"If the US and the southern enemies genuinely want dialogue and negotiation, they should take these steps."

The United States and South Korea are yet to respond to the conditions. Even if they are considered to be unacceptable, they at least suggest a willingness to negotiate on the behalf of the North.

North Korea had previously repeatedly said that any talks would only begin once it had been accepted by America as a nuclear state. The latest statement hints at a softening of that stance.

"The de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula can begin with the removal of the nuclear war tools dragged in by the US and it can lead to global nuclear disarmament," the North's National Defence Commission said in the statement released by the official KCNA news agency.

"Dialogue and war cannot co-exist. If the United States and the puppet South have the slightest desire to avoid the sledge-hammer blow of our army and the people ... and truly wish dialogue and negotiations, they must make the resolute decision," the statement said.

Crucially, the statement also called for the removal of United Nations sanctions against the country.

"The sanctions resolutions by the UN Security Council that were fabricated with unjust reasons must be withdrawn," the North's top military body said in its statement.

The American Secretary of State, John Kerry, was in the region last weekend. He offered talks with the North but only on the pre-condition they abandon their nuclear weapon ambitions.

An anticipated missile test by North Korea has not yet materialised though it is believed that at least two medium to long range missiles remain primed and fuelled on launch pads in the country's North East.

The threat of a missile test was the culmination of weeks of alarming rhetoric from the North, robust military posturing from America and a genuine fear of a military clash between the two.

Joint South Korean and American military exercises on the peninsula are due to end this month, which is likely to reduce the tensions.

The latest round of United Nations sanctions were imposed on North Korea following its successful rocket launch in December and subsequent nuclear test in February.