Having nuclear weapons 'matter of life and death' for North Korea: Russian media

Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry, told a non-proliferation conference in Moscow that the United States would "have to put up" with North Korea's nuclear status.
Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry, told a non-proliferation conference in Moscow that the United States would "have to put up" with North Korea's nuclear status.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Pyongyang does not plan to hold any talks with Washington about its nuclear programme, a senior North Korean diplomat said on Friday (Oct 20), saying that possessing nuclear weapons was a matter of life and death for North Korea, the RIA news agency reported.

The United States would "have to put up" with North Korea's nuclear status, Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry, told a non-proliferation conference in Moscow, RIA reported.

"This is a matter of life and death for us. The current situation deepens our understanding that we need nuclear weapons to repel a potential attack."

"We will respond to fire with fire."

Pyongyang would regard any attempts to strangle the country via UN Security Council sanctions as an attempt “to declare war”. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, addressing the same conference earlier on Friday, urged world powers to get behind a joint Russian-Chinese roadmap for settling the crisis over North Korea’s weapons programme. 

“We are convinced that its implementation will promote the lessening of military activity and tension on the Korean peninsula and the forming in Northeastern Asia of a system of equal and indivisible security,” he said. 

The plan proposes a moratorium on North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons tests, while South Korea and the United States suspend holding military exercises. 

“The main task at the current stage is to prevent a military conflict which will inevitably lead to a large-scale humanitarian, economic and ecological catastrophe,” Lavrov said. “All the sides involved should exercise restraint.”