The paper also repeated the North's argument that discussions on nuclear inspections should be left until a later stage when Washington has dropped its "hostile policy".

North Korean state media has rarely mentioned Obama but hinted in a New Year's message that Pyongyang was willing to work with his administration.

Stalled talks

Pyonyang entered into six-party talks in 2005, pledging to scrap its nuclear arms programme in return for aid and an end to its international ostracism.

But disarmament talks have stalled over how to verify the North's declarations about its nuclear activities.

Analysts say North Korea will be a major challenge in Asia for the new US administration, particularly in testing Obama's commitment in his inauguration speech to "work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat".

Yang Moo-jin, from the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP that the North was sending out a clear message about its nuclear weapons.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Paik Hak-soon, of the Sejong Institute think-tank, as saying the North was asking for "a package deal and a more intense interest" from Obama.

Last week Pyongyang took a tough position by saying that it might keep its bombs, even after normalising ties, as long as what it calls a US "threat" remains.