North Korea tells U.N. chief nuclear program not up for negotiation

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - North Korea’s nuclear weapons program will never be up for negotiation as long as the U.S. government’s “hostile policy and nuclear threat continue,” Pyongyang’s deputy U.N. ambassador told United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Servicepersons of the Korean People's Army (KPA) and the Korean People's Internal Security Forces (KPISF), civilians, school youth and children visited the statues of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of national liberation in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 15, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

Guterres spoke by telephone with Deputy Ambassador Kim In Ryong on Tuesday, the North Korean mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Thursday. North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam is currently in North Korea, also known as DPRK.

“As long as the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat continue, the DPRK ... will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiation table or flinch an inch from the road chosen by itself, the road of bolstering up the state nuclear force,” Kim told Guterres according to an account of the phone call given by the North Korea U.N. mission.

Guterres said on Wednesday it was time to “dial down rhetoric and dial up diplomacy” on North Korea and that he had told Russia, Japan, the United States, China and North and South Korea that he was available to help broker talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea last week it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States, prompting North Korea to say it was considering plans to fire missiles toward Guam.

But North Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim delayed the decision while he waited to see what the United States did next, prompting Trump to praise Kim’s “wise” decision.

“As the U.S. launched full-scale provocation against the DPRK across all fields of politics, economy and military, nothing can alter the will and resolve of the army and people of the DPRK to respond by taking resolute retaliatory measures,” Kim told Guterres according to the North Korean statement.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously a U.S.-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea on Aug. 5 that could slash by a third the Asian state’s $3 billion annual export revenue.

Kim told Guterres the resolution “constitutes a flagrant infringement upon (North Korea’s) sovereignty and an open challenge to it.”

North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and the Security Council has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear weapons tests and four long-range missile launches.

“The DPRK will make the U.S. pay dearly for all the heinous crime it commits against the state and people of this country,” the North Korea U.N. mission said Kim told Guterres.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Gregorio