North Korea is warning the United Nations Security Council not to consider sanctions against it and says it will not recognize any resolutions on its nuclear program that the world body might approve.
Four days before the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to discuss North Korea's nuclear program, Pyongyang is clarifying its views on the matter. A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman, quoted by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, says just bringing up the issue is "a prelude to war."
The statement adds that the U.S. led war on Iraq has proven to Pyongyang that only a "tremendous military deterrent force" can help it avert war with the United States. The North Korean government has repeatedly accused the United States of preparing to attack the country once it finishes the war in Iraq.
Pyongyang has demanded one-on-one talks with Washington to solve the crisis, but now says even that might not be enough to avert war. The United States has refused bilateral talks, saying discussions should include other countries, including South Korea, Japan and China.
Speaking on television Sunday, South Korea's Foreign Minister Yoon Young-Kwan said perhaps the nuclear issue could be resolved using diplomacy outside official U.N. channels.
The first round of cabinet level talks between Seoul and Pyongyang, under the new South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun, was set to begin Monday in North Korea. But South Korea says it has yet to receive an invitation from the North.
Tensions on the peninsula escalated last October when U.S. officials said Pyongyang had admitted to a secret nuclear program in violation of a 1994 accord. Since then, North Korea has re-opened nuclear facilities capable of producing nuclear weapons materials.
Meanwhile, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports that three North Koreans aboard a fishing vessel crossed into South Korean waters before dawn Sunday to seek asylum.
The news agency says the three men were towed to shore by authorities and have been taken in for questioning. The boat was first spotted about 170 kilometers northeast of Seoul.