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N. Korean Envoy: Nuclear Weapons Not Negotiable

FILE - Protesters holding portraits of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken denounce U.S. policy against North Korea at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 9, 2015.

A North Korean diplomat says his country’s nuclear weapons program is not subject to negotiation, rejecting a U.S. call for its denuclearization.

The diplomat, from the North Korean mission to the United Nations in New York, told VOA this week his country will not negotiate away its nuclear weapons.

"Denuclearization should not be an objective of any future talks with us," said the official, who preferred to remain anonymous. "We will never give up nuclear weapons before the U.S. and the world are denuclearized."

The diplomat reiterated Pyongyang’s longstanding position that it must have nuclear weapons to deter the U.S. threat, saying his country has no "expectations of negotiations as the U.S. is increasing its hostile policy" against North Korea.

The State Department has dismissed the comments. A spokesman told VOA, "Multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions require North Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and immediately cease all related activities."

Six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program have been stalled since 2008. Washington has said Pyongyang must show a commitment toward denuclearization before talks can resume, a position rejected by North Korea. The other participants, besides the United States, include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

In February, South Korea’s top nuclear envoy said all participants in the North Korean nuclear talks except North Korea had reached a consensus to hold exploratory talks before resuming any formal six-party discussions. The U.S. and other nations in the talks have not commented directly on the announcement.

Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, is visiting Moscow this week for discussions.

The latest denuclearization comments come amid heightened tension between Washington and Pyongyang over the communist country’s human rights records.

Last December, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the Security Council to consider referring the North Korean human rights issue to the International Criminal Court. Pyongyang condemned the resolution, calling it a "political plot."

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.