North Korea Envoy Says No Nuclear Cuts Without a Treaty

North Korea won’t surrender its nuclear weapons without a peace treaty with the U.S. and an end to American nuclear “blackmail,” the country’s United Nations ambassador said.

North Korean Ambassador Sin Son Ho repeated his government’s call for ending the UN military command in South Korea and replacing the 1953 armistice, which halted the fighting but didn’t end the war.

In a rare press conference yesterday in New York, Sin stuck to a script that followed recent remarks from officials in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. He presented his comments as an opening for peace, while at the same time calling the U.S. “entirely responsible” for the “ever-worsening situation” on the Korean peninsula that “can lead to another war at any moment.”

“The DPRK will never give up its nuclear deterrent unless the United States fundamentally and irreversibly abandons its hostile policy and nuclear threat towards the DPRK and dissolves the UN Command,” he said, using the initials of his nation’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Sin’s appearance, which included taking questions, came days before South Korean President Park Geun-hye is due to visit China on June 27-30.

Earlier this year, North Korea’s young dictator Kim Jong-Un rattled nerves by declaring North Korea’s withdrawal from the armistice, cutting military hot lines with the South, ordering missile forces on alert, and threatening strikes.

U.S. Troops

The U.S.-led UN Command oversees the 60-year-old armistice, including the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that divides the Korean peninsula. The U.S. supports South Korea with about 28,500 troops stationed in the country.

North Korea awaits a U.S. response to its proposal to hold talks on a peace treaty that also could include other subjects, such as North Korea’s nuclear “deterrent,” Sin said.

While North Korea issued a statement June 16 proposing direct talks with the U.S., President Barack Obama’s administration has responded that North Korea should demonstrate its seriousness by ending nuclear and missile tests and re-engaging in the six-party talks over denuclearization with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S..

“As we have made clear, our desire is to have credible negotiations with the North Koreans, but those talks must involve North Korea living up to its obligations to the world, including compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, and ultimately result in denuclearization,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a June 16 statement.

China Role

The U.S. has urged China to use its influence with neighboring North Korea to stop military provocations and resume the six-party negotiations. North Korea was a topic in the meeting this month between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in California.

Earlier this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said North Korea is willing to return to those talks, which last took place in 2008.

Still, Sin repeatedly said that progress in resolving issues depends on direct U.S. talks on dissolving the UN Command in Korea and a peace treaty. North Korea “will continue to strengthen its deterrent” against all kinds of war “until the United States makes the right choice,” he said.

North Korea denuclearization depends on dismantling the UN Command, banning nuclear weapons in South Korea, and ending U.S. nuclear “threats and blackmail,” he said.

He repeatedly referred to denuclearization extending to South Korea. The U.S. removed all its nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, although as a defense treaty ally, South Korea is under the U.S. global nuclear umbrella.

Sanctions Issue

Sin sidestepped a question about whether China supports North Korea’s stance, merely describing China-North Korea talks as “very friendly discussions.”

Sin called for nations not to follow the “sanctions and blackmail policy” against North Korea promoted by the U.S. North Korea is subject to economic and other sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in response to North Korea’s violations of the council’s prohibition on its nuclear and missile tests.

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