North Korea on Saturday rejected a U.S. suggestion that it follow Libya's example and abandon its nuclear weapons programs to open the way for economic aid and improved ties with the United States.
Calling the U.S. proposal "nothing but a sham offer," a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry reiterated that North Korea would freeze its nuclear facilities as a first step toward dismantling them, but only if the United States provided energy aid, lifted economic sanctions and removed the country from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
"It is a daydream for the U.S. to contemplate forcing the [North] to lay down arms first under the situation where both are in a state of armistice and at war technically," the spokesman said.
The comments, carried by North Korea's official KCNA news agency, came three days after a State Department official urged North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to follow the example of Libya and abandon nuclear weapons development.
John R. Bolton, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said in a speech Wednesday in Seoul that lessons learned from Libya's pledge to eliminate weapons of mass destruction could be used in six-nation talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear standoff.
Three rounds of talks on North Korea's nuclear programs have been held in Beijing since last year, but none has produced a breakthrough. The United States, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas took part in the meetings.