A North Korean official warned that Pyongyang could fire a nuclear-tipped missile unless the US acts to resolve its standoff with the North, Yonhap news agency reported yesterday.
"We hope the situation will be resolved before an unfortunate incident of us firing a nuclear missile comes," the unnamed official said on Monday, according to a Yonhap report from Beijing. "That depends on how the US will act."
Even if the North is confirmed to have a functioning atomic bomb, most experts don't believe it has a design small and light enough to place on a missile.
Their long-range missile capability also remains in question, after a test rocket in July apparently fizzled out shortly after takeoff.
Meanwhile, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan said international nuclear disarmament arms talks will not resume unless the US changes its stance toward the hermit regime.
"No diplomatic offensive or military threats are likely to change the trend unless the US withdraws hostility and pressure," the Choson Sinbo wrote in a story believed to originate from the North.
The newspaper is connected to a society of ethnic North Koreans in Japan linked to the Pyongyang regime.
"The six-way talks are deadlocked due to the US pressure and there is no prospect for the resumption of talks," the newspaper said. "North Korea's development of nuclear weapons was an inevitable choice to counter the US military threats."
However, the North Korean official said the country was seeking direct talks with the US.
"The nuclear test is an expression of our intention to face the United States across the negotiating table," the official said.
Yonhap didn't say how or where it contacted the official, who requested anonymity.
The official also dismissed moves at the UN Security Council to sanction the impoverished nation over its reported nuclear test three days ago.
"We have lost enough. Sanctions can never be a solution," the official said. "We still have a willingness to give up nuclear weapons and return to six-party talks as well. It's possible whenever the US takes corresponding measures."
Meanwhile, Japan urged the international community yesterday to retaliate with sanctions on North Korea as nations across Asia and the world considered what to do next after Pyongyang tested an atomic bomb.
South Korea warned its military was remaining on high alert and even close ally China refused to rule out a harder line on the North.