North Korea is ready to give the United States a “severe lesson” if Washington takes military action against Pyongyang, pledging it will “under no circumstances” put its nuclear weapons and ballistic programmes on the negotiating table, the country’s foreign minister has said.
“We will under no circumstances put the nukes and ballistics rockets on [the] negotiating table,” Ri Yong-ho said in a statement released on Monday in the Philippine capital Manila, where he was attending a regional meeting of the Association of the South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“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 US against the DPRK [North Korea] are fundamentally eliminated.”
North Korea was under fire at the ASEAN forum in Manila, where US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Pyongyang should signal it was prepared to resume talks by stopping its missile tests.
“The best signal that North Korea could send that they’re prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” said Tillerson.
China backs UN sanctions on North Korea as ASEAN summit held
However, he said it was not a matter of stopping the launches by “a specific number of days or weeks”.
In an earlier statement released via its official KCNA news agency, North Korea threatened to make the US “pay the price for its crime… thousands of times” for drafting the sanctions, which were supported by North Korea’s ally, China.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who also attended the meeting, warned North Korea that Beijing, which is Pyongyang’s biggest trading partner, would be resolute in implementing the sanctions.