UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea said Tuesday that "many things will be possible this year on the Korean peninsula" if the United States agrees to suspend its annual military exercises with South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang's suspension of nuclear tests.
North Korea's new deputy U.N. ambassador, An Myong Hun, refused to give details during a news conference but said the suspensions would open "genuine dialogue" between the two Koreas and remove the risk of war.
He urged the Obama administration to reverse its rejection of the proposal and said his government "is ready to explain its intentions behind its proposal directly to the United States."
An said North Korea sent the proposal to the U.S. on Friday through the "appropriate channel" used for communications between the two countries "in order to remove the danger of war and ease the tension and create (a) peaceful atmosphere on the Korean peninsula." North Korea and the United States don't have diplomatic relations.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki objected Saturday to linking a possible North Korean nuclear test — which is banned by the U.N. Security Council — to military exercises. She said this constituted "an implicit threat" and called on the North to immediately cease all threats and reduce tensions. The U.S. has previously refused to cancel military drills with South Korea.
Psaki said the U.S. remains open to dialogue with North Korea, but only "with the aim of returning to credible and authentic negotiations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
An made no mention of new nuclear talks.
The North's proposal comes at a time of animosity between North Korea and the U.S. over a comedy movie depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The U.S. blames the North for crippling hacking attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which An vehemently denied, demanding that the United States produce evidence.
North Korea also is facing international condemnation over its human rights record, and the U.N. Security Council could refer the country to the International Criminal Court over its rights abuses.
An said Washington's refusal to accept the proposal for suspensions demonstrates again that the United States will continue to increase the capabilities of the South Korean military while trying to prevent North Korea from having its own national defense.
The U.S. should now stop pushing its "hostile policy ... and should be bold enough to choose a different approach, to change its course — that is, change its policy hostile to the DPRK," An said, using the initials of his country's name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"If this proposal is put in practice this year, many things will be possible this year on the Korean peninsula that has very meaningful implications, and that's why we have put forward this proposal directly to the United States government," An said.
He refused to answer several questions on what could happen if the U.S. accepted — or what might happen if it again said "no" to the proposal.