WASHINGTON – North Korea has upped the ante in response to a U.S. call for direct negotiations to lessen tensions on the Korean Peninsula by demanding that the U.S. first withdraw from that part of the world altogether.

However, the tensions are not likely to recede right away because such a position is judged to be a non-starter in the dispute over Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities.

While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently said that the U.S. is prepared for direct talks with Pyongyang to lessen tensions, a North Korean statement said that the pre-condition that it first dismantle its nuclear weapons program is unacceptable.

“The U.S. should understand that a dialogue will begin only when the DPRK’s demand for the withdrawal of strategic offensive means in the vicinity of the peninsula aimed at realizing the U.S. world domination strategy is met,” the statement said.

This statement follows a North Korean rejection of talks on which WND recently reported.

In its rejection, North Korea said that it refuses a U.S. condition that it abandon its nuclear and missile development programs before international sanctions are lifted.

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“‘Dismantlement of nukes first’ and implementation of the ‘resolution on sanctions’ set forth by the hostile forces as preconditions for dialogue are aimed to force the DPRK to lay down arms and bring it into submission,” the North Koreans said.

Reference to the DPRK is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the formal name of North Korea.

“Prompted by this calculation,” the DPRK said, “the U.S. has constantly been engaged in the dangerous nuclear blackmail and sanctions against the DPRK for decades and whenever their political and military circumstances did not get their way, they made dialogue offer.”

The U.S. condition for direct talks with the DPRK “is the U.S. sinister intention to force the DPRK to dismantle its nuclear program and make a pre-emptive nuclear strike at it in a bid to attain the aggression purpose (sic).

“The U.S. is sadly mistaken if it calculates it can deceive and mock at the international community and disarm the DPRK with such call as ‘dialogue.'”

Calling its condition “a practical step to meet (its) just demand,” Pyongyang accused the U.S. of “(passing) the buck for the grave war-like situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

“They have forced the DPRK to show its will of nuclear dismantlement and suspension of missile launches which is totally unacceptable,” the DPRK said. “This reminds one of a thief crying, ‘Stop the thief.’ Such a thing can be done only by idiots.”

In rejecting Kerry comments that the U.S. would never regard North Korea as a nuclear state, Pyongyang said that if it sits down for discussions with the U.S., “it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not a place one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons.”

“The U.S. appears to seek to force the DPRK to accept its demand at sort of the nuclear talks after introducing nuclear war means into the peninsula and overpowering the DPRK,” Pyongyang said. “This is a fairy tale-like story.”

The North Koreans said the U.S. call for dialogue is aimed at “stifling” the DPRK.

“Therefore, they are an open challenge to the DPRK and a declaration of showdown with it,” it said.

In referring to what it regards as a “grave challenge,” the DPRK statement said that the Korean Peninsula “will be engulfed in the flames of a nuclear war in a moment” if the DPRK were to act like “those countries in the Balkans and the Middle East,” which it claims fell victim to aggression after abandoning their war deterrent capability.

The statement was referring to both Iraq and Libya giving up their nuclear weapons ambitions only to become subjected later to regime change, led principally by the U.S. and its allies.

“The powerful nuclear deterrent of the DPRK serves as matchless strength to firmly defend the destiny and dignity of the nation from outsiders’ interference and aggression and meet all challenges of anti-reunification forces and a precious treasure of the nation which can never be bartered for anything,” the DPRK declared.

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