NORTH KOREA ‘UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES’ WILL GIVE UP ITS NUCLEAR WEAPONS
North Korea on Monday spurned overtures from South Korea and the United States, and instead lobbed a new inflammatory threat to retaliate against the United States over new U.N. sanctions punishing Pyongyang for its missile and nuclear tests. In a speech at the ASEAN Regional Forum, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said that “under no circumstances” would it negotiate away its nuclear weapons, according to a transcript. The forum was closed to the press, so it could not be determined whether the speech was actually delivered as prepared and labeled on a six-page copy given to reporters. In the printed version of the speech, Ri said that the entire U.S. mainland is within firing range of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is North Korea’s official name. He said Pyongyang would use nuclear weapons only against the United States or any other country that might join it in military action against North Korea. And he dismissed stiff U.N. Security Council sanctions passed Saturday as illegal. “We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on (the) negotiating table,” he said. “Neither shall we flinch even an inch from the road to bolstering up the nuclear forces chosen by ourselves, unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the D.P.R.K. are fundamentally eliminated.” To paint the United States as the global threat much of the world considers his own country to be, Ri pointedly mentioned the atomic bombs that the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, and cast North Korea’s nuclear program as self-defensive in nature. “Since the emergence of nuclear weapons in the world, it has been proved throughout history that nukes can deter war,” he declared. Ri’s remarks went unheard by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who left the conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations early to attend a scheduled meeting with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.