North Korea says nuclear weapons not negotiable

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A TOP North Korean decision-making body said yesterday that nuclear weapons are “the nation’s life” and will not be traded even for “billions of dollars”.

The comments came in a statement released after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over the plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party.

The meeting, which set a “new strategic line” calling for building both a stronger economy and nuclear arsenal, comes amid a series of near-daily threats from Pyongyang in recent weeks, including a vow to launch nuclear strikes on the United States and a warning on Saturday that the Korean Peninsula was in a “state of war”.

Pyongyang is angry over annual US-South Korean military drills and a new round of UN sanctions that followed its 12 February nuclear test, the country’s third.

Analysts see a full-scale North Korean attack as unlikely and say the threats are more likely efforts to provoke softer policies toward Pyongyang from a new government in Seoul, to win diplomatic talks with Washington that could get the North more aid, and to solidify the young North Korean leader’s image and military credentials at home.

North Korea made reference to those outside views in the statement it released through the official Korean Central News Agency following the plenary meeting.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a “treasure” not to be traded for “billions of dollars,” the statement said. They “are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings to be presented to the place of dialogue or be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing [Pyongyang] to disarm itself,” it said.

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