North Korea says willing to give up nukes, but only if U.S. does the same

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North Korea would be willing to give up its nuclear weapons if world powers such as the United States take the lead in reducing their own nuclear arsenal, the country’s deputy UN ambassador said on Monday.

Speaking at a discussion on nuclear weapons by a committee of the UN General Assembly, deputy UN Ambassador Kim In Ryong expressed support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (NBT), which seeks the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear weapon states, including the U.S. and members of the military alliances like the NATO took negative stand towards the treaty from the beginning and didn’t even attend the UN meeting dealing with the NBT,” Kim said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

North Korea, which faces increasing pressure over its nuclear weapons program, voted in favor of the treaty in the First Committee of the General Assembly, but it did not take part in the actual vote in December 2016. Countries such as the U.S., Russia, and the United Kingdom opposed the treaty.

Kim, whose speech came amid increased tensions and at a time when diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis appear to have stalled, expressed support for the UN treaty, but added that North Korea could not accede unless world powers join in the effort to eliminate nuclear weapons.

“The DPRK consistently supports the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the efforts for denuclearization of the entire world,” Kim said. “However as long as the U.S., who constantly threatens and blackmails the DPRK with nuclear weapons, rejects the NBT, the DPRK is not in position to accede to the treaty.”

Kim added: “For success of nuclear disarmament efforts, the countries that possess [the] largest nuclear arsenals should take the lead in dismantling nuclear weapons, roll back nuclear doctrines of aggressive nature such as ‘preemptive strike’ and withdraw nuclear weapons deployed outside their own territories.”

During Monday’s speech, Kim warned that the situation on the Korean Peninsula had reached the point where “nuclear war may break out at any moment.” He blamed U.S. military exercises and shows of force for escalating the situation and argued that its nuclear weapons and missiles are only for self-defense.

“Unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the U.S. is thoroughly eradicated, we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiation table under any circumstance and will never flinch even an inch from the road we have chosen,” Kim said.

The prepared remarks also warned other countries against joining the U.S. in any military action against North Korea, though Kim did not read that section out loud. “As long as one does not take part in the U.S. military actions against the DPRK, we have no intention to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any other country,” it said.

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