Sun, 17 Mar 2013 12:00:00 GMT | By AFP

N. Korea says nukes are not a bargaining chip for aid

International food aid, especially from South Korea and the US, has been drastically cut over the past several years amid tensions over the North's nuclear and missile programmes

N. Korea says nukes are not a bargaining chip for aid (© Reuters)

Seoul: North Korea said Sunday it would never trade its nuclear weapons programme for aid and stressed its "unshakeable" stance to retain the deterrent, following a third atomic test last month.

The North's foreign ministry, in a statement carried by state TV, rejected suggestions that the impoverished state was using its weapons programme as a way of bullying neighbours into offering much-needed aid.

"The US is seriously mistaken if it thinks that the (North) had access to nukes as a bargaining chip to barter them for what it called economic reward," it said.

The comments came days after the US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said Washington was willing to hold "authentic negotiations" with the North if it changed its behaviour.

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