N. Korea wants Japan out of nuclear talks

/ Source: The Associated Press

North Korea on Saturday lashed out at Japanese officials as "political imbeciles" for comments that they won't accept the communist nation as a nuclear power, and said Tokyo shouldn't take part in revived talks on the North's atomic program.

The North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "there is no need for Japan to participate in (the talks) as a local delegate because it is no more than a state of the U.S. and it is enough for Tokyo just to be informed of the results of the talks by Washington."

Japan is a common target for the North's hostile rhetoric, stemming from Tokyo's imperial occupation of the Korean peninsula in the early 20th century. The North has also called before for Japan to be excluded from the talks.

The North agreed this week to return to the arms negotiations — which also include China, Russia, the U.S. and South Korea — in the first relaxation of tension after its Oct. 9 nuclear test. The talks had been on hold since November 2005, with Pyongyang refusing to attend because of a U.S. campaign to cut off its access to the international financial system for alleged illegal activity.

On Saturday, the North said the international community had hailed the agreement on the renewed talks "while highly praising the (North's) invariable stand and sincere efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

"But it is only Japan that expressed its wicked intention, letting loose a spate of balderdashes," the ministry said, referring to comments that Tokyo won't accept a nuclear North Korea. "The Japanese authorities have thus clearly proved themselves that they are political imbeciles incapable of judging the trend of the situation and their deplorable position."

Noting the recent change of government in Japan with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe taking power, the North said Tokyo "must have a lot to do internally." "It had better, therefore, mind its own business instead of poking its nose into the work of the talks to its inconvenience," the ministry said in the statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

Japan has sought to address the issue of its abducted nationals at the nuclear talks, a subject which the North insists it has settled after admitting to kidnapping 13 Japanese in the 1970s-80s. However, many Japanese have doubts about the fate of the kidnapping victims and the North's claims of their fates.