North Korea says it has weaponized enough plutonium to produce four to five nuclear warheads.
Selig Harrison, a U.S. nuclear expert who just returned from talks with officials in Pyongyang, told reporters in Beijing Saturday that he was told the weapons could not be inspected.
Harrison said Li Gun, director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's U.S. division, told him the government is prepared to discuss nuclear disarmament when and if relations with the United States are fully normalized. He would not commit to any timeline.
Earlier today, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said the Stalinist state would not give up its nuclear capability as long as it feels threatened by the United States.
On Tuesday, North Korean officials called for denuclearization of both Koreas, claiming the U.S. military in the South has nuclear weapons.
Yonhap news agency quoted South Korean Foreign Ministry officials as calling the demand "distorted," and saying there are no U.S. nuclear arms in South Korea.
A South Korean news report Thursday said Seoul rejected the North's demand that the two Koreas adopt a mutually verifiable nuclear weapons deal.
Also Thursday, former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to give priority to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.
Mr. Kim fostered closer inter-Korean relations and supported unconditional aid-and-fertilizer shipments to the impoverished North.
Six-party negotiations on North Korea's nuclear disarmament stalled last month after Pyongyang refused to sign a verification deal.
Mr. Obama's choice for secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said Wednesday that the new U.S. administration will pursue an aggressive effort to end the North Korean nuclear program.