North Korea's foreign minister said the country would stop its nuclear testing if the U.S. ceased its annual military exercises with South Korea.


Ri Su Yong told The Associated Press that the U.S. drove North Korea to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent. But he said suspending the United States's annual joint military exercises with South Korea could help reduce tensions. 

"Stop the nuclear war exercises in the Korean Peninsula, then we should also cease our nuclear tests," he said.

It was Ri's first interview with a Western news organization, and he said the two countries need to de-escalate tensions. 

"If we continue on this path of confrontation, this will lead to very catastrophic results, not only for the two countries but for the whole entire world as well," he said. "It is really crucial for the United States government to withdraw its hostile policy against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea], and as an expression of this stop the military exercises, war exercises, in the Korean Peninsula. Then we will respond likewise."

North Korea has made similar proposals before but has refused to make the first move by ending its nuclear weapons program. Ri said U.S. sanctions would not deter the country. 

"If they believe they can actually frustrate us with sanctions, they are totally mistaken," he said.