N. Korea Proposal on Halting Nuke Tests Dismissed

N. Korea Proposal on Halting Nuke Tests DismissedN. Korea Proposal on Halting Nuke Tests Dismissed

A day after North Korea’s foreign minister said his country is ready to halt its nuclear tests if the United States suspends its annual military exercises with South Korea, President Barack Obama said on Sunday Washington is not taking the proposal seriously and Pyongyang would “have to do better than that”.

Ri Su Yong, interviewed on Saturday by AP, also defended his country’s right to maintain a nuclear deterrent and warned that Pyongyang will not be cowed by international sanctions. And for those waiting for the North’s regime to collapse, he had this to say: Don’t hold your breath.

“Stop the nuclear war exercises in the Korean Peninsula, then we should also cease our nuclear tests,” he said in his first interview with a western news organization.

Obama dismissed North Korea’s latest overture at a news conference on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover, Germany.

“We don’t take seriously a promise to simply halt until the next time they decide to do a test these kinds of activities,” Obama said.

“What we’ve said consistently ... is that if North Korea shows seriousness in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, then we’ll be prepared to enter into some serious conversations with them about reducing tensions and our approach to protecting our allies in the region. But that’s not something that happens based on a press release in the wake of a series of provocative behaviors. They’re going to have to do better than that.”

Obama also said that until North Korea does better, as he put it, the US will continue to “emphasize our work with the Republic of Korea and Japan and our missile defense mechanisms to ensure that we’re keeping the American people safe and we’re keeping our allies safe”.

Ri’s interview came just hours after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine in its latest show of defiance as this year’s US-South Korea exercises wind down. He referred to the launch in the context of current tensions caused by the military exercises.

“The escalation of this military exercise level has reached its top level. And I think it’s not bad, as the other side is going for the climax; why not us, too, to that level as well?”

The US State Department said that in response to Saturday’s launch, it was limiting the travel of Ri and his delegation to UN functions in New York, where they are attending a UN meeting on sustainable development.

The US noted “launches using ballistic missile technology are a clear violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”