North Korea Says War with U.S. Is Over, Wants It Made Official Before Giving Up Nukes

North Korea has called on the U.S. to officially end the decades-long conflict between them and lift sanctions as new obstacles arise for historic peace talks.

Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Korean Workers' Party Central Committee, published a commentary Thursday arguing that to "declare the war-end is the first process for ensuring peace and security not only in the Korean peninsula but also in the region and the world." The U.S. backed South Korea against rival North Korea, which was supported by communist neighbors the Soviet Union and China, in a bloody 1950s war that ended in a stalemate and an armistice, but no official peace treaty was signed.

"If the military confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S. comes to a close with the publication of the war-end declaration, an atmosphere favorable for confidence-building will be provided," the commentary read, according to the official Korean Central News Agency, referring to North Korea by the acronym for its official title: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The DPRK government has long proposed declaring the war-end and replacing the Armistice Agreement with a peace accord as the most reasonable way for defusing tension and ensuring durable peace on the Korean peninsula," it added. "But, this has not yet come true. It shows that unilateral efforts cannot solve problems. Both sides should make efforts to settle the problems."

GettyImages-1005915064 North Korean soldiers wait to pay their respects before the statues of late North Korean supreme leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on the anniversary of the end of the Korean War, at Mansu hill in Pyongyang, July 27. With no formal treaty, North Korea technically remains in a state of war with South Korea and the U.S., something it's eager to change amid ongoing peace talks. ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Following last year's tense rhetorical showdown between North Korea and the U.S., the two Koreas pursued an unprecedented degree of diplomatic exchanges earlier this year. The talks produced a pledge to formally end their hostilities, and this was reiterated when North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un met in Singapore with President Donald Trump in the first summit of its kind two months ago. Kim agreed to abandon the nuclear weapons he has often argued were vital to defend against invasion while Trump vowed to ultimately lift sanctions, ensure Kim's safety and potentially establish a lasting declaration of peace.

Leading up to the summit, Kim declared a freeze on all nuclear and longer-range missile tests and then destroyed two major sites associated with his weapons testing and development. Recent satellite imagery suggests he has been further dismantling his missile capabilities.

North Korea has also released U.S. prisoners and repatriated the remains of U.S. soldiers who died fighting in the Korean War.

For its part, the U.S. has suspended some joint military exercises with South Korea, but Trump has been adamant in demanding that Pyongyang fully denuclearize before intensive sanctions were lifted and has taken measures to ensure that other countries adhered to these economic restrictions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that all nations must maintain "diplomatic and economic pressure" on North Korea to achieve "the final, fully verified denuclearization."

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho responded the following day by calling  Pompeo's position "alarming," accusing the U.S. of "raising its voice louder for maintaining the sanctions against the DPRK and showing the attitude to retreat even from declaring the end of the war, a very basic and primary step for providing peace on the Korean peninsula."

The U.N. and U.S. officials have alleged that North Korea was continuing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development in spite of attempts to resolve the ongoing conflict. The latest report by the Stimson Center's 38 North project included satellite imagery showing ongoing activity, but no apparent operation at the 5-megawatt reactor at North Korea's Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

GettyImages-1009202992 A military honor guard carries the remains of U.S. soldiers repatriated from North Korea as Vice President Mike Pence (C) pays respects during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 1. After destroying key nuclear and missile sites, releasing U.S. prisoners and returning the remains of dead U.S. troops, North Korea has called on the U.S. live up to its end of the bargain by declaring peace and lifting sanctions. RONEN ZILBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images

In a press statement carried Thursday by the Korean Central News Agency, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman accused the U.S. of "attempting to invent a pretext for increased sanctions against the DPRK by mobilizing all their servile mouthpieces and intelligence institutions to fabricate all kinds of falsehoods on our nuclear issue" in spite of North Korea's concessions.

"Expecting any result, while insulting the dialogue partner and throwing cold water over our sincere efforts for building confidence which can be seen as a precondition for implementing the DPRK-U.S. joint statement, is indeed a foolish act that amounts to waiting to see a boiled egg hatch out," the spokesman said. "The international society is struck by this shameless and impertinent behavior of the U.S., and we also closely follow the U.S. behavior with high vigilance against their intentions.

"As long as the U.S. denies even the basic decorum for its dialogue partner and clings to the outdated acting script which the previous administrations have all tried and failed, one cannot expect any progress in the implementation of the DPRK-U.S. joint statement including the denuclearization, and furthermore, there is no guarantee that the hard-won atmosphere of stability on the Korean Peninsula will continue," he added.

When reached for comment, a State Department spokesperson told Newsweek that the U.S. goal was "to achieve the final, fully-verified denuclearization of the DPRK as agreed to by Chairman Kim.  The President has confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor their commitment in Singapore.

"We are committed to building a peace mechanism with the goal of replacing the Armistice agreement when North Korea has denuclearized," the spokesperson added. "Economic sanctions will continue until nukes are no longer a factor."

This article has been updated to include comments provided by a State Department spokesperson.

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