The nuclear crisis was triggered
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Pyongyang has no option other than nuclear deterrence, because of what it claimed was Washington’s continued nuclear threat towards North Korea.
Pyongyang often accuses Washington of planning a pre-emptive strike against it. The Bush administration includes North Korea in the so-called “axis of evil”.
The news agency said North Korea’s nuclear development was an effort to reduce the cost of conventional weaponry and instead funnel money into economic construction.
Pyongyang’s economy has collapsed over the past decade. Millions of North Koreans are reported to have starved - 30 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) goes to maintain its 1.1 million strong army.
North Korea denied US allegations that it was blackmailing Washington to win concessions in the nuclear standoff.
“We will strengthen a powerful physical deterrence that costs less but can incapacitate any high-tech or nuclear weapons unless the United States gives up its hostile policy towards North Korea,” said the KCNA.
The United States believes Pyongyang possess one or two nuclear bombs from a programme that was frozen under a 1994 bilateral accord.
The collapse of the accord sparked an escalating crisis marked by the expulsion of international inspectors from North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex. Pyongyang also withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
The KCNA commentary stopped short of saying Pyongyang has already developed nuclear weapons. Washington claims North Korea confessed it has, in private.
Last year US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, during a visit to North Korea, said Pyongyang had admitted it was running a programme based on highly-enriched uranium.
According to Kelly, North Korea also said it had a right to nuclear deterrence.
North Korea wants to resolve the crisis through one-on-one talks with the United States, while Washington says multilateral negotiations are needed to resolve the matter.
Pyongyang is also calling for security guarantees from Washington before it addresses US “security concerns” about nuclear weapons.