North Korea says that since it now has nuclear weapons, six-party talks on its nuclear program should become arms reduction negotiations - in which it is treated as an equal.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency also quotes a foreign ministry spokesman (today/Thursday) as saying the United States must remove all nuclear threats from the region before talks can begin.

The United States has previously said it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. Earlier Thursday the United States issued a fresh call for North Korea to return to international talks on its nuclear disarmament.

Christopher Hill, U.S. special envoy to the six-party nuclear talks, declined to say what action Washington would take if North Korea refuses to negotiate. But he stressed that the United States will continue to press the issue.