North Korea on Thursday laid out tough conditions for any dialogue with Seoul or Washington in a statement signaling an apparent shift from its barrage of warlike rhetoric in recent weeks.

In a statement from the North’s National Defence Commission, Pyongyang demanded the withdrawal of UN sanctions and a guaranteed end to South Korea-US joint military exercises.

“The first step will be withdrawing the UN Security Council resolutions cooked up for ridiculous grounds,” the commission said in a statement, referring to sanctions imposed after its rocket launch in December and its nuclear test in February.

“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.”

Thursday’s statement also called for the withdrawal of all “US tools” for a nuclear war from the Korean peninsula and a promise to never to deploy them again.

“If the US and the South enemies… genuinely want dialogue and negotiation, they should take these steps,” the commission said.

South Korea swiftly rejected the North’s demands as “incomprehensible” after it offered its own conditions for any dialogue with Pyongyang. North Korea also dismissed Washington’s proposal for a window of diplomacy which sought for the dismantling of the regime’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Analysts said Pyongyang’s unrealistic conditions were “an initial show of strength in a game of tug-of-war”.