N. Korea says nuclear deterrent no bargaining chip

SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Wednesday that its nuclear weapons program is not a bargaining tool and slammed South Korean policymakers for challenging the country's sovereign right to defend itself from outside aggression.

In an article carried by the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), Pyongyang said if it did not possess nuclear weapons there would be no peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and that the fate of the Korean people would be placed in jeopardy.

"The build-up of nuclear deterrence has proven to be a wise choice," the daily claimed. The communist country detonated three nuclear devices since 2006, with the latest test being carried out on Feb. 12.

The paper, which effectively represents the views of the North Korean leadership, then blasted South Korea's foreign minister and unification minister for calling on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions.

"Remarks by Yun Byung-se and Ryoo Kihl-jae are direct challenges to the country's dignity and independence," the article monitored in Seoul said, adding that calls for the North to denuclearize is nothing more than foolish wishful thinking.

It warned that any individual who challenges the rightful course taken by the country will pay a hefty price.

The latest verbal assault comes after Foreign Minister Yun said in a United Nations event earlier in the month that the North's strategy of simultaneously building up its economy and its nuclear force is a direct affront to the authority of the international organization.

Unification Minister Ryoo, meanwhile, said that the North must first give up its nuclear weapons in order for the inter-Korean factory park in Kaesong to mature and contribute to better inter-Korean relations.

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