Defying a resolution issued by the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday that condemned Pyongyang for test-firing a missile in December and tightened existing sanctions on the regime, North Korea’s National Defense Commission said the new nuclear test would be part of its action against the “sworn enemy of the Korean people”.
North Korea also vowed to push ahead with launches of more long-range rockets.
“We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-US struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the US, the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the commission said.
“Settling accounts with the US needs to be done with force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival.”
Describing the UN Security Council as “a marionette of the US,” North Korean state media claimed the resolutions are “products of its blind pursuance of the hostile policy of the US.
“The UNSC should apologise for its crime of seriously encroaching upon the independence of a sovereign state … and repeal all the unreasonable ‘resolutions’ at once,” KCNA reported.
Pyongyang also declared that no further talks on removing nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula are now possible and that a “nuclear test of a higher level” would be carried out.
Intelligence reports have suggested that the North has been preparing to carry out a new underground nuclear test after global condemnation of the successful launch of a missile on December 12. Pyongyang has claimed that the launch was of a rocket to put a satellite into orbit.
North Korea’s allusion to a “higher level” nuclear test most likely refers to a device made from highly enriched uranium, which is easier to miniaturise than the plutonium bombs it tested in 2006 and 2009, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.
Disagreement within the UN Security Council – primarily a result of China, which holds a veto, insisting that retaliatory measures be watered down – meant that North Korea has had plenty of time to prepare for the inevitable responses.
While experts say North Korea does not have the capability to hit the US with its missiles, recent tests and rhetoric indicate the country is working toward that goal.
Reaction to Pyongyang’s declaration was swift, with Glyn Davies, the special representative for North Korean policy in the US government, urging North Korea not to go ahead with the test, saying it would be “a mistake and a missed opportunity.”
The White House later condemned the comments as “needlessly provocative”.
The transition team for the incoming South Korean government, due to be sworn in on Friday, has also appealed to Pyongyang not to take any steps that would aggravate tensions in the region, while Japan is to launch a new spy satellite on Sunday with the express task of monitoring missile and nuclear tests in North Korea.
China, North Korea’s sole significant ally, even come down against Pyongyang’s intransigence, with Xi Jinping, the next president, telling a visiting delegation of politicians from South Korea that he opposes the regime developing nuclear arms or any weapons of mass destruction.
Hong Lei, a foreign ministry spokesman added: “All relevant parties should refrain from action that might escalate the situation in the region.”
North Korea separately expressed outrage at reports in the Chinese media that Mr Kim has undergone plastic surgery to make him more closely resemble his much-revered grandfather, the late Kim Il-sung.
Pyongyang’s anger was aroused after the report was aired on a Chinese TV station, with state media describing the claims as a “smear campaign” orchestrated by South Korea “to tarnish the ever-more growing dignity and authority of the supreme headquarters of the DPRK.”
[by Julian Ryall, in The Telegraph, London]
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