North Korea on Saturday renewed previous vows that it would not negotiate away its nuclear weapons program while saying there is room for talks on disarmament, Reuters reported.
The Obama administration has demanded that Pyongyang demonstrate its commitment to a 2005 denuclearization deal before new diplomatic talks are held. International calls for a return to engagement have gained support in recent weeks as the Northeast Asia region searches for a way to lower tensions with North Korea that have at times risked spiraling out of control.
"The U.S. should not think about the denuclearization on the [Korean] Peninsula before the world is denuclearized," the North Korean-regime controlled Rodong Sinmun newspaper said. "There may be talks between the D.P.R.K. and the U.S. for disarmament but no talks on denuclearization," the commentary stated.
Despite its 2005 pledge to eventually give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for international security promises and large amounts of foreign assistance, Pyongyang has in recent years ramped up its fissile material production capabilities, carried out three nuclear tests, and expanded its development of longer-range ballistic missiles.
New satellite photographs reveal the North has positioned two mobile launchpads for Scud missiles on its east coast in another sign that a missile firing might be in the works, Reuters separately reported. Earlier this month, the North was spotted positioning two intermediate-range Musudan missiles on its east coast as well as seven movable launchpads.
A missile firing might take place on Thursday when Pyongyang celebrates the anniversary of the establishment of its army.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey is in China this week for talks with top military officials there on how to more effectively persuade Pyongyang to lower regional tensions, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
Speaking to reporters after talks with Dempsey, Chinese General Staff head Gen. Fang Fenghui acknowledged the potential for a fourth North Korean nuclear test, the Associated Press reported.
"We ask all sides to work actively to work on the North Koreans to stop nuclear tests and stop producing nuclear weapons," Fang said. "We believe that dialogue should be the right solution."