World

North Korea: No negotiation over nuclear programme

Rogue state accuses US of rigging UN Security Council vote on sanctions

North Korea yesterday ruled out any negotiations over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes, and accused the United States of rigging a weekend United Nations Security Council vote that agreed to new sanctions aimed at curbing the North's export earnings.

"We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table," the North's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said in remarks he delivered at the Asean Regional Forum in Manila.

He insisted his nation's nuclear arsenal "is an inevitable strategic option, and it is a precious strategic asset that can neither be reversed nor bartered for anything".

Pyongyang's response came after the UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions aimed at pressuring North Korea to end its nuclear programme after two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in July.

The sanctions could slash North Korea's US$3 billion (S$4.1 billion) annual export revenue by a third.

Mr Ri called the sanctions "fabricated" and insisted the UN had abused its authority.

He said the North's ICBM tests in July proved that the entire US was in firing range and that those missiles were a legitimate means of self defence.

North Korea is ready to give the US a "severe lesson" if it takes military action, he warned.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China would strictly implement the sanctions "100 per cent". "The key is that we cannot let the situation to continue to escalate," he said.

Mr Wang held direct talks with Mr Ri on Sunday, telling him in unusually strong terms: "Do not violate the UN's decision or provoke the international society's goodwill by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests."

Meanwhile, in a news briefing, Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono said "heated discussions" took place about North Korea's missile tests, and most countries believed UN sanctions on Pyongyang should be fully implemented.

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ruled out a quick return to dialogue with North Korea, saying new UN sanctions showed the world had run out of patience with Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

He told reporters Washington would only consider talks if Pyongyang halted its ballistic missile tests.

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