Pyongyang has lashed out at new U.S. legislation aimed at protecting human rights in North Korea, saying it makes talks on ending the North's nuclear ambitions meaningless. This comes as South Korea's president says he is optimistic the dispute over the North's nuclear weapons programs can be resolved peacefully.
North Korea's state media say the new U.S. legislation shows Washington is "hell-bent" on destroying the country.
The KCNA news agency lashed out Tuesday at the law passed a day earlier by the U.S. Congress. The legislation urges North Korea to better protect human rights and also provides U.S. funds to help refugees who have fled the impoverished country.
The North Korean broadside says the passage of such legislation shows that it is meaningless to continue six-nation talks over Pyongyang's nuclear programs. The United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia have been trying to persuade Pyongyang to give up the programs.
Despite the North's anger, South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun thinks the dispute will be resolved. Mr. Roh says that before long a peaceful settlement will be found. He also says his government is committed to achieving peace and prosperity on a basis of trust.
Mr. Roh made the comments Tuesday while on an official visit to India.
Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons to deter a possible attack from the United States. Washington says it has no plans to attack North Korea, but it fears the Stalinist state will either use a nuclear bomb itself, or sell the technology to terror groups or other nations.
There have been three rounds of six-nation talks on the dispute. However, North Korea backed out of plans for a fourth round in September.
Its officials have said, among other things, that they will not return to the table until nuclear experiments by South Korea - conducted over the past few decades but only recently made public - are fully investigated.
Many North Korea experts have said they think Pyongyang wants to delay further talks until after the U.S. presidential election in November, in the hope there will be a new administration more willing to hold bilateral talks.