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(2nd LD) Additional nuke test depends 'entirely' on Washington: N.K.'s top diplomat

All News 22:49 July 26, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more quotes, background info from 5th para)

VIENTIANE, July 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's top diplomat blamed the United States Tuesday for dashing hopes of realizing denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, saying the occurrence of an additional nuclear test depends "entirely" upon Washington.

In a hastily-arranged press meeting after attending a regional security gathering held in the Laotian capital, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho also demanded U.S. troops pull out of South Korea altogether.

"It is the U.S.' hostile policy that is making the current situations worse," Ri said. "The problem is that its hostile policy is getting severe and the prime example can be found in the increased military pressure and nuclear threats."

"Another one can be found in its economic isolation policy aimed at restricting our economic development. Recently, this has come to the point where (the U.S) carried out the biggest hostile act by insulting our 'greatest dignity' by taking issue with the so-called human rights," he added.

He referred to the U.S.' move on July 7 to impose sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over human rights abuses in an unprecedented, highly symbolic measure underscoring Washington's determination to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang.

Ri was in Laos to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum, a rare international security consultation event attended by North Korea and all other member countries of the long-halted six-party talks. Since his arrival here on Sunday, he has stayed almost mum on media seeking comments.

His trip for this year's ARF comes against heightened tensions caused by the North's fourth nuclear test in January followed by repeated launches of ballistic missiles in the following months. Adding to that speculation has also been mounting concerns that the North might be preparing a fifth nuclear test soon.

Asked if the North is considering another nuclear test, he didn't offer a direct answer but pointed his finger at the U.S. again, saying, "Whether we conduct an additional nuclear test or not depends entirely on the U.S.' attitude."


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