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(LEAD) N Korea bashes U.S. for spurning offer of nuke test moratorium

All Headlines 11:42 January 12, 2015

(ATTN: ADDS Seoul's response in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea slammed the United States on Monday for rejecting its offer to temporarily suspend nuclear tests in return for a halt to military drills with South Korea, calling on Washington to accept the overture.

On Friday, the communist country proposed a temporary halt to nuclear tests if the U.S. suspends joint military exercises with Seoul, expressing its willingness to have dialogue with the U.S. on the matter. But the U.S. rejected the offer, denouncing it as an "implicit threat."

"It is nonsense that they blamed us for allegedly posing threats with the fourth nuclear test, which does not even take place, while conducting military activities continuously," said the Choson Sinbo, the newspaper of a North Korea-affiliated Korean community in Japan.

Stressing that its offer was "an expression of its firm will to ease tension and to make a peaceful environment on the Korean Peninsula," the newspaper said North Korea will "allow the Obama administration to set the cause for a policy change toward it."

"There would be no reason for the U.S. to temporarily stop firing guns and sit down for talks to check the intention of the other side," the report said, calling on the U.S. "to send a clear message via a relevant channel."

The communist country said it sent the message "through a relevant channel," with details about exactly how and to whom Pyongyang sent the message to the U.S. not known.

North Korea has long called for an end to annual U.S.-South Korea military drills, calling them a rehearsal for invasion of the communist nation. Seoul and Washington, however, have rejected the demand, saying the annual maneuvers were purely defensive.

Pyongyang has conducted three nuclear tests, with the latest and the most powerful one in 2013. It has also threatened to carry out "a new form" of underground detonation test.

South Korea, meanwhile, said Monday it is "totally wrong" for the North to link its nuclear tests to the joint military drills, urging Pyongyang to abide by the international regulations that ban the detonations.

"The North's proposal is just like a thief asking for the front door to be opened, while promising that he or she will temporarily restrain from committing a theft," defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a regular briefing.

Stressing that the drills are meant to defend the Korean Peninsula and South Korea from military threats from the North, the ministry said it will carry out the joint exercises with the U.S. as scheduled.


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