BEIJING • North Korea has voiced eagerness through its state-run media to continue developing and testing new weapons while accusing the United States of seeking confrontation through joint military drills with the South.
"There can be no constructive dialogue while confrontation is fuelled," the Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said yesterday.
"We have to develop, test and deploy powerful physical means essential for national defence."
The remarks by North Korea's most influential newspaper came a day after the US and South Korea ended their joint military exercise that started on Aug 5. Pyongyang has denounced such drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.
North Korea has repeatedly launched projectiles, including what appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles, off its east coast since July 25, in protest against the joint military exercise.
Meanwhile, the Yomiuri newspaper said in an unsourced report yesterday that Japan has upgraded its estimate of North Korea's nuclear weapons capability in an upcoming annual Defence White Paper, saying it seems Pyongyang has achieved the miniaturisation of warheads.
North Korea's ability to build nuclear warheads small enough to fit on its ballistic missiles has been widely accepted for several years, but the Japanese report highlights the lack of progress on denuclearisation talks aimed at curtailing the programme, said Dr Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.
US envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who was in Seoul this week to meet South Korean officials, said he was ready to resume working-level nuclear talks with North Korea "as soon as we hear from our counterparts".