The United States on Saturday criticized a North Korean offer to suspend nuclear tests if Washington promised to call off its joint military drills with South Korea, saying it implied that the communist nation could carry out another nuclear test in the future.
The US State Department's spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, told reporters that the North was "inappropriately" linking the military drills to the possibility of another nuclear test.
"A new nuclear test would be a clear violation of North Korea's obligations under multiple UN Security Council resolutions," said Psaki, who was with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Munich en route to India.
Calling the proposal an "implicit threat," Psaki called upon Pyongyang to "immediately cease all threats, reduce tensions and take the necessary steps towards denuclearization needed to resume credible negotiations."
Ongoing UN sanctions
Pyongyang's offer to suspend nuclear tests was conveyed to the US authorities on Friday though a "relevant channel," according to North Korea's official KCNA news agency
"The message proposed that the US contribute to easing tension on the Korean peninsula by temporarily suspending joint military exercises in South Korea and its vicinity this year," KCNA said in its report on Saturday.
The communist North has conducted three nuclear tests, the last of which was carried out in February 2013. The isolated nation has been under UN sanctions for defying the international atomic regulations.
The US and South Korea have been holding large-scale joint defense drills for around four decades. The US has around 30,000 troops permanently stationed in South Korea.
The two Koreas remain in a state of war, having never signed a peace treaty. The two countries split during the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended with an armistice.
shs/tj (AFP, Reuters)