N.Korea: No talks without US retraction
SEOUL - North Korea ruled out on Wednesday a return to stalled six-way talks on its nuclear weapons programs unless the United States retracted its labeling of Pyongyang as an "outpost of tyranny."
A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry also said recent comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in interviews with Reuters and the Washington Times -- in which she refused to apologize for giving the North the tyranny tag -- indicated the United States did not want to hold talks.
DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"This is, in the final analysis, little short of indicating it will not to hold the six-party talks. She can make nothing but such outcries as she is no more than an official of the most tyrannical dictatorial state in the world," he added.
Rice began a six-country Asian tour on Tuesday and will visit Seoul at the weekend. North Korea's nuclear ambitions are a major focus of her visit to Asia as secretary of state.
The ministry spokesman described Rice as reckless, "bereft of any political logic" and someone Pyongyang could not deal with.
North Korea said on Tuesday it might increase its declared nuclear arsenal to maintain a balance of power in East Asia. The United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea are seeking to persuade the North to give up its nuclear capability but talks have stalled.
On Wednesday, it said Rice's comments further justified a stronger nuclear arsenal for self defense. Proliferation experts believe the North may have one or two nuclear weapons, and possibly as many as eight or more.
"It is inconceivable for the DPRK to go out for the talks before it is delisted as an outpost of tyranny," Wednesday's ministry statement said. "The U.S. had better behave realistically and wisely if it truly wishes to have the six-party talks," KCNA said.
It warned against a U.S. attempt to drive a wedge through regional powers -- without specifying the countries -- in an attempt to coax the North back to the talks, saying "no pressure can ever work on the DPRK." Rice is also scheduled to visit China and Japan.
Earlier this week, the top U.S. negotiator to the six-party talks said the discussions must be accelerated or other ways for managing the North's nuclear programs must be considered.
"NUCLEAR WAR EXERCISES"
The threat to boost its nuclear arsenal came in the North's typical criticism of an annual military drill conducted jointly by the U.S. and South Korean military.
The North's official news media reported with irritation, in separate stories, the arrival of the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk at a South Korean port city of Pusan on Monday for the drills and called for its immediate removal.
"It would be well advised to withdraw the carrier flotilla from South Korea at once, give up the projected war maneuvers targeted against the DPRK and pull out its aggression forces at an early date, pondering over the serious consequences to be entailed by its reckless and dangerous war provocation moves against the DPRK," an unnamed spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said.
The drills use computer-simulated models to test the two allies' defense readiness in the face of an attack from the communist North.
North Korea called the drills "nuclear war exercises" and said its buildup of
nuclear weapons was necessary as self defense. The exercises run from Saturday
to March 25 this year.