(ATTN: ADDS experts' views, details on Iran nuclear deal)
SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's top diplomat has said that the country will hold onto its nuclear knowledge, saying that it will serve as a means to gird for the U.S.' possibly continued hostile policy toward Pyongyang, according to Iranian media reports.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho made the remarks during his three-day trip to Iran that began Tuesday.
"Since we know that the U.S. will never give up its hostile policy toward us, we will hold onto our nuclear knowledge," he was quoted by local media as saying during his meeting with Ali Larijani, speaker of Iran's parliament.
"It is hard to deal with the U.S.," he added. "In order to realize our major objective of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. should make good on its part of the promise, but it has rejected to do so."
His remarks came amid growing concerns over the stalled process of "complete" denuclearization agreed by their leaders during a historic summit in June.
They are accusing each other of dragging their feet in fulfilling the agreement.
The U.S. calls on the North to speed up its denuclearization process, while the North says that the U.S. is making a "gangster-like" demand without taking corresponding action.
On Thursday, the North's foreign ministry issued a statement, chiding Washington for making a "unilateral demand" despite the North's "practical" steps, such as halting nuclear and missile tests, dismantling a nuke test site and repatriating the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War.
The North still reaffirmed its commitment to upholding the spirit of the agreement reached between their leaders in June, calling on the U.S. to respond "in a corresponding manner."
Experts say that Ri's comments on retaining nuclear knowledge could mean holding nuclear researchers and know-how, which would fall short of Washington's demand for complete and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program.
Some still caution against reading too much into his remarks. They pointed out the fact that it was widely reported by Iranian media, calling into question the real intentions behind them.
On Friday, the North's state-run media reported on his trip to Iran, saying that he discussed with its top officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, ways to deepen their bilateral ties and cooperation. It didn't mention any discussion on nuclear issues.
His trip to Iran drew keen attention as it coincided with the U.S.' move to reimpose sanctions on Tehran after withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal with the country in May.
The nuclear deal was designed to restrict Iran's nuclear capability in return for lifting sanctions on its economy. Iran has strongly protested Washington's move to pull out of the agreement.
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