North Korea has "nothing to fear" if it breaks from its nuclear weapons program, officials in Washington insisted Friday after Pyongyang attacked the new US nuclear policy as showing continued hostility.
"If they have concerns about what's in the Nuclear Posture Review, they have control on what happens next," said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, referring to the policy renouncing the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states in compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"If they come back to the six-party process, if they take affirmative steps toward denuclearization, then they have nothing to fear from (the) NPR," Crowley said.
A foreign ministry spokesman in Pyongyang told the official news agency earlier Friday that "as long as the US nuclear threat persists, the DPRK (North Korea) will increase and update various type nuclear weapons as its deterrent."
The ministry said that because Washington left options open against countries such as North Korea or Iran which it said defy non-proliferation obligations, the new policy is "nothing different from the hostile policy pursued by the Bush administration."
The North quit the treaty in 2003 and has since staged two atomic weapons tests.
"There is a clear path for North Korea" to move toward denuclearization of the peninsula, Crowley said. "In doing so, North Korea can benefit from improved relations with the US and the international community."
The North has also complained that the new US policy "chilled the hard-won atmosphere for the resumption" of stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.
The talks, grouping the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, were last held in December 2008. The North announced in April 2009 it was quitting the forum and it staged its second nuclear test a month later.
Source: AFP American Edition