N Korea vows not to swap nuclear weapons for aid

SEOUL: North Korea, under international pressure to return to nuclear disarmament talks, vowed today never to give up its atomic arsenal in return for economic aid.

The communist state’s official news agency instead demanded an end to what it called US hostility — apparently restating a call for a formal peace treaty on the Korean peninsula.

Seoul’s military said separately the North had declared live-fire zones near its disputed sea border with South Korea, raising the prospect of a further display of firepower after shelling in late January heightened tensions.

The North has also moved some multiple rocket launchers to bases along its west coast, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Agence France Presse. It was unclear whether this was part of a military drill or a permanent move.

Chinese and North Korean negotiators held talks in

Beijing last week about restarting the six-party

nuclear forum, which the North quit last April.

The two sides also discussed possible economic

assistance, South Korea’s

Yonhap news agency

has reported.

Some analysts believe the North will eventually have to return to dialogue given its worsening economy and acute food shortages.

The North has developed atomic bombs for its own defence, “not to threaten anybody or receive economic favours or rewards”, the Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary.