A top North Korean decision-making body issued a pointed warning Sunday, calling its nuclear weapons "the nation's life" and saying they will not be traded even for "billions of dollars."
The comments — from the plenary meeting of the central committee of the country's ruling Workers' Party — came one day after Pyongyang warned Seoul that the entire Korean Peninsula had entered "a state of war."
Sunday’s statement was released through the official Korean Central News Agency. It followed a meeting of the Workers' Party that had been presided over by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang is angry over annual U.S.-South Korean military drills and a new round of U.N. sanctions that followed its nuclear test on Feb. 12.
North Korea's nuclear weapons are a "treasure" not to be traded for "billions of dollars," the statement said. They "are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings."
The statement went on to say the country’s "nuclear armed forces represent the nation's life." North Korea has called the U.S. nuclear arsenal a threat to its existence since the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula still technically at war.
Pyongyang justifies its own nuclear pursuit in large part on that perceived U.S. threat. The White House says the United States is taking North Korea's threats seriously, but has also noted Pyongyang's history of what it calls "bellicose rhetoric."