Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- North Korea responded to South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s offer of “a window of opportunity” for inter-Korean dialog with a vow to “further reinforce” its status as a nuclear-weapons state.
“If a change is to be expected in the peninsula, it is only a total ruin of the Lee group, which is as good as the living dead,” the North’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Korea, said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency yesterday.
“As long as the enemy is persistent in his moves for aggression, the DPRK will further reinforce the position of the nuclear-weapons state to protect its dignity and sovereignty,” it said. DPRK as an acronym of North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The committee responded to Lee’s New Year message, which expressed the possibility of a “new era” in inter-Korean relations if the North shows sincerity in denuclearizing.
The committee statement was the North’s first message on the status of the North’s nuclear weapons program since Kim Jong Il died and his son Kim Jong Un was installed as leader.
The U.S. urged China, the North’s biggest ally and trade partner, to “make clear the importance of restraint by the new North Korean leadership,” Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Asia, said in Seoul yesterday after meeting South Korean officials.
“We stressed that North Korea should take steps to improve relations with the Republic of Korea and to abide by its international obligations and commitments,” Campbell said.
North Korea has twice detonated a nuclear device and in November 2010 fired artillery at an island in the Yellow Sea, killing four people in the first shelling of South Korean soil since the 1950-53 Korean war.
--Editor: Joshua Fellman, Terry Atlas
To contact the reporter on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at firstname.lastname@example.org; John Brinsley at email@example.com