North Korea yesterday accused the US of intending to disarm the communist country and then "crush it to death with nuclear weapons" -- two days after a landmark disarmament agreement that was expected to ease tensions.
North Korea pledged to give up its nuclear weapons program in return for economic aid and security assurances at six-nation talks in Beijing on Monday -- the first breakthrough in more than two years of negotiations.
However, the country's rhetoric since then has cast doubts on its commitment to the agreement and underscored its unpredictability, though none of its negotiating partners say they expect a breakdown in the disarmament talks, scheduled to continue in November.
"The ulterior intention of the United States talking about resolving the nuclear issue under the signboard of the six-party talks is as clear as daylight," the North's Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary carried in the Korean language by the official Korean Central News Agency.
"In a word, it intends to disarm and crush us to death with nuclear weapons," the commentary said.
Washington has repeatedly denied North Korean allegations that it is planning an attack.
Just hours after this week's agreement among the two Koreas, US, China, Japan and Russia, North Korea threw its pledge into question on Tuesday when it said it wouldn't dismantle its nuclear weapons program unless Washington agrees to supply light-water reactors for civilian power -- a condition Washington already had rejected.
South Korea interpreted the North's latest demand as a negotiating tactic.
"It seems [North Korea] has started laying the groundwork in advance of the next round of negotiations," South Korean envoy Song Min-soon said, according to Yonhap news agency.
The North demanded at the outset of six-party talks last week in Beijing that it be given a light-water reactor -- a type less easily diverted for weapons use -- in exchange for disarming. US officials opposed the idea, maintaining North Korea could not be trusted with any nuclear program.