North Korea
Kim Jong Un's regime talks tough. Reuters

North Korea has set stiff terms and conditions for resumption of any dialogue with South Korea and the United States. The country wants South Korea-US annual joint military exercises stopped and the US-orchestrated sanctions withdrawn.

KCNA, the official news agency, carried a statement saying: "If the US and South enemies genuinely want dialogue, they should take these steps."

"The first step will be withdrawing the UN Security Council resolutions cooked up on ridiculous grounds. Second, you need to tell the whole world that you will not get involved in any rehearsal for a nuclear war that threatens our nation. Dialogues and war games can never go together."

The statement, issued by the National Defence Commission, the highest advisory body of the North Korean military, listed its demands to avoid "any sledge-hammer retaliatory blows of the army and the people".

The commission also insists that the allies step back from their aggressive posturing first. "They should bear in mind that the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can begin with the pullout of the nuclear war means introduced by the US and South."

South Korea's foreign ministry rejected the conditions. Its spokesperson said: "We again strongly urge North Korea to stop this kind of insistence that we cannot totally understand and go down a path of wise choice."

The ongoing military drill will conclude at the end of April. Washington and Seoul have stated that the drill, called Foal Eagle, is purely defensive in nature and is carried out every year without antagonising and threatening North Korea.

North Korea watchers have been expecting the test-launch of a missile any time. It was earlier believed that the regime would conduct the launch to coincide with the 101<sup>st birthday anniversary of the nation's founder Kim Il-Sung.

The Pentagon still believes Pyongyang will conduct a test-launch in the coming days. An official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the launch was imminent as the US believed that "this month was the zone".