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North Korea offers to stop nuclear tests

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo on Jan. 6, 2016, shows North Korean people celebrating the first hydrogen bomb test in Pyongyang. (Photo by AFP)

North Korea says it would stop its nuclear tests if the United States signed a peace treaty with Pyongyang and stopped its joint annual military maneuvers with South Korea.

An unnamed spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry made the offer early on Saturday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

“Still valid are all proposals for preserving peace and stability on the [Korean] Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, including the ones for ceasing our nuclear test and the conclusion of a peace treaty in return for US halt to joint military exercises,” the spokesman said.

In response to a question concerning Pyongyang’s call for a peace treaty, the US State Department said recently it remained open to dialogue. The onus, it said, was on North Korea to take “meaningful actions toward denuclearization.”

The two Koreas remain technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace agreement.

North Korea is irked by the joint military maneuvers conducted by Seoul and Washington and views them as direct threats against its security. The United States has some 28,500 troops in South Korea.

Soldiers from South Korea (L) and the US (R) gesture as they set up a floating bridge during a joint river crossing exercise in Yeoncheon, Dec. 10, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Asked whether Washington would consider a halt to its joint exercises with South Korea, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said lately that Washington had alliance commitments to Seoul.

Elsewhere in his comments, the North Korean official described the recent hydrogen bomb test by Pyongyang as a justifiable move to ensure its survival against external threats.

“In response to the US continuously invading our sovereignty and making threatening provocations, we will acquire ourselves with all possible nuclear attack and nuclear retaliation abilities, but will not thoughtlessly use our nuclear weapons,” he said.

On January 6, North Korea said it had successfully conducted its first hydrogen bomb test. The country also pledged to continue developing its nuclear program as a means of “deterrence” against potential acts of aggression from the US.

Pyongyang is under UN sanctions over launching missiles considered by the US and South Korea as ballistic and aimed at delivering nuclear warheads.

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