ABC News - North Korea on Tuesday refused to rule out a pre-emptive attack, even amid signs it may be willing to return to the nuclear bargaining table.
The North poured out anti-American rhetoric a tactic it has used in the past before entering negotiations by claiming that Washington's "hostile policies" led it to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent and warning against any attack to dislodge its leadership.
"The United States should be aware that the choice of a pre-emptive attack is not only theirs," the North's official news agency quoted the state-run newspaper Minju Joson as saying. "To stand against force with force is our unswerving method of response."
The commentary came amid a flurry of contacts aimed at convincing the North to resume six-nation talks, suspended since the third round ended in June, on its nuclear program.
Washington is awaiting a response to an overture it made May 13 days after the North announced it had removed fuel rods from a reactor, a possible step toward extracting weapons-grade plutonium reportedly at North Korea's office at the United Nations.
U.S. officials said earlier this month that spy satellites showed possible preparations for North Korea's first nuclear-weapons test.
China, the North's strongest ally, said Tuesday it could not confirm reports its neighbor was planning a nuclear test.
"We have expressed many times that we do not know the intentions and situations of North Korea," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said at a regular briefing.
North Korea indicated a willingness Sunday to return to the talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia but said it was waiting for Washington to clarify conflicting statements on U.S. policy toward the reclusive communist state.
It reaffirmed North Korea's commitment "to peacefully resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiations" and said the North "will continue to closely watch the U.S. side's attitude, and when the time comes we will officially deliver to the U.S. side our position through the New York contacts."
North Korea on Tuesday also repeated claims its nuclear weapons help protect peace in East Asia.
"It is in the East Asian region, including the Korean Peninsula, where the U.S. moves for vicious attacks and war … are carried out most seriously," Minju Joson said. "It is our nuclear deterrent that basically guarantees peace and stability."
The commentary, carried by the Korean Central News Agency, also blamed Washington's "hostile policies" for prompting Pyongyang to possess nuclear weapons.
The Direct Translation from Korean was actually "Pay Attention to me Dammit".