North Korea refused to back down after the United States offered a pivotal diplomatic channel to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

In a statement carried by North Korean state media on Tuesday, Pyongyang rejected Washington’s call for talks and instead accused the US of portraying the regime as an aggressor.

A foreign ministry official said the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks were a “crafty ploy to evade blame for the tension on the eve of a war”.

“The DPRK is not opposed to dialogue but has no idea of sitting at the humiliating negotiating table with the party brandishing a nuclear stick,” the official said.

Pyongyang also said the US’ “nuclear war maneuvers” had compelled it to take military countermeasures for self-defense against “US threat of nuclear war”.

North Korea unleashed a barrage of bellicose rhetoric in recent weeks as the US and South Korea started conducting annual joint military exercises, which Pyongyang has described as provocations against it.

The North’s military has ramped up threats against South Korea saying it would retaliate without notice following anti-Pyongyang protests in Seoul.