North Korea on Tuesday said it was up to the United States to make the first move in ending the nuclear impasse that in recent months has spiked tensions in Northeast Asia, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"Our strong stance (on the nuclear issue) is to end the nuclear intimidation tactics employed by the United States and its followers and use it as a tool to win the war of national unification," the state-controlled Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in an editorial.
"Unless the United States gives up its nuclear weapons, we will not give up our nuclear capability," the editorial stated.
Pyongyang is angry over recent maneuvers conducted by U.S. nuclear-capable bombers over South Korea. The drills were part of a larger U.S.-South Korean exercise that seeks to deter future North Korea hostilities through displays of military strength. The allies concluded their annual Foal Eagle maneuvers on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Meanwhile, China has directed its government branches, including the People's Bank of China, the Transport Ministry, law enforcement agencies and customs offices, to strongly enforce U.N. Security Council sanctions placed on the North following its third nuclear test in February, the South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Separately, the senior U.S. negotiator to the moribund six-nation talks on North Korean denuclearization, Clifford Hart, is resigning his post to take a posting as consul general to Hong Kong and Macau, an unidentified official told Yonhap on Monday. His replacement has yet to be selected. The nuclear negotiations have not been held since December 2008.
The State Department on Monday called on Pyongyang to quickly set free a U.S. citizen who has been imprisoned in the North since November, Reuters reported.
Kenneth Bae, 44, traveled to North Korea on a tourist visa. Pyongyang has accused him of seeking to undermine the Kim Jong Un regime.
"In the past there have been many ... instances where American citizens are used as political bargaining chips and our concern is that this individual not be used in that manner," an unidentified U.S. official said.