North Korea will not give up its nuclear arms unless the “U.S. nuclear threat to Korea” is eliminated, North Korean state media said Thursday. The statement carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency was a particularly blunt indication that the two countries are still far apart on their ideas of what “denuclearization” means on the Korean Peninsula.
The North Korean statement said “the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” includes elimination of not only the North’s nuclear arms but also “the United States’ nuclear weapons and other invading forces in South Korea.”
“If we lay down our nuclear weapons first, that is not denuclearization, but putting ourselves in a defenseless state,” continued the commentary. “This will apparently shatter the balance of strategy of nuclear forces, as well as bring about a nuclear war.”
The United States withdrew its tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, but continues to operate nuclear-armed bombers and submarines that can reach Korea from elsewhere, constituting a so-called “nuclear umbrella.”