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North Korea vows to bolster nuclear arms over US human rights report

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April 18, 2013: South Korean soldiers prepare 155 mm howitzers during their military exercise in the border city between two Koreas, Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea. North Korea on Thursday demanded the withdrawal of U.N. sanctions and the end of U.S.-South Korea military drills as conditions for resuming talks meant to defuse tension on the Korean Peninsula.AP

North Korea is vowing to bolster its nuclear program in response to a U.S. State Department report accusing Pyongyang of human rights abuses.

Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called the annual U.S. report proof of a hostile policy by Washington that's aimed at toppling North Korea's leadership.

The State Department last week cited defectors' reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary detention, arrests of political prisoners and torture.

Last month, Pyongyang also condemned a U.N. resolution approving a formal probe into suspected widespread rights violations.

Pyongyang has eased the near-daily war threats that characterized its public statements for weeks. But animosity lingers.

Pyongyang has rejected offers of dialogue from Washington and Seoul. It says U.S.-South Korean military drills set to end next week are meant as invasion preparation.