(Adds comment from U.S. diplomat)
SEOUL Feb 22 Isolationist North Korea
lashed out at its neighbour on Wednesday for hosting an
international nuclear security summit in Seoul next month,
calling it a "childish farce" and an "intolerable grave
The South has said Pyongyang can send a delegate to the
conference involving some 50 world leaders, including U.S.
President Barack Obama, but insists the invitation is
conditional on it renouncing its own nuclear programme.
The two Koreas are still technically at war, having signed
only a truce to end their 1950-53 civil conflict, not a peace
treaty, and the United States has some 28,000 troops based in
"It is astonishing that a meeting dealing with the issue of
nuclear security is to be convened in south Korea, a nuclear
advance base for the U.S. and the world's largest nuclear powder
magazine," KCNA state news agency quoted an official statement
Referring to "south" Korea without the capital "S" is its
way of denying its existence as a separate country. It said the
March 26-27 summit showed that south Korea was a "special-class
nuclear war servant for its American master".
The United States guarantees the South's security under its
so-called "nuclear umbrella", but says it does not keep nuclear
weapons on the peninsula.
The North itself has twice tested nuclear devices, and
analysts say it has enough fissile material to make more half a
dozen atomic bombs.
Pyongyang, subject to international sanctions for its
nuclear weapons programme, has said it is willing to rejoin
regional talks which offer the impoverished state aid in return
for giving up its nuclear weapons programme.
Experts, however, doubt the North's new leadership has any
intention of giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons because it
sees them as a deterrent against attack and a negotiating chip.
North Korea and U.S. officials will meet in Beijing on
Thursday for a third round of bilateral talks aimed restarting
the regional "six-party" nuclear talks which broke down in 2009.
Glyn Davies, who will lead the talks for the U.S. side,
said North Korea needed to show it was sincere, but that he was
pleased the talks were happening so soon after the death of Kim
Jong-il and appointment of his son Kim Jong-un as leader.
"What precisely his policies are, in what direction he
wants to take his country -- all of these are a bit unknown at
this stage," he told reporters in Beijing.
The Seoul nuclear security summit is focused on preventing
nuclear terrorism and safeguarding nuclear materials and
(Reporting by Jeremy Laurence; Additional reporting by Ben
Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)