North Korea renewed its demand Tuesday that it be recognized as a nuclear weapons state before it agrees to ‘sit at a table’ with the US and South Korea.

The official mouthpiece of the North’s Workers’ Party, Rodong Sinmun, rejected the US’ condition that it agree to dismantle its nuclear weapons and suspend missile launches before any talks can begin as “totally unacceptable”.

“If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea sits at a table with the US, it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons,” the newspaper said.

The US swiftly rejected Pyongyang’s demand for nuclear status.

“North Korea’s demand to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state is neither realistic nor acceptable,” US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman said.

“It is important that the world respond calmly but deliberately without changing our emphasis that the goal of the world to which North Korea is committed is a denuclearized Korean peninsula,” he told Reuters.

Pyongyang defiantly conducted its third nuclear test in February last year, prompting the UN to impose new sanctions which in turn led to a dramatic intensification of North Korea’s threats of a nuclear strike against South Korea and the US, reports Aljazeera.