North Korea’s top governing body yesterday warned that the regime will conduct its third nuclear test in defiance of UN punishment and made clear that its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites, but also warheads aimed at striking the US.
The North Korean National Defense Commission, headed by young North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, denounced the UN Security Council’s resolution on Tuesday condemning North Korea’s long-range rocket launch last month as a banned activity and expanding sanctions against the regime.
The commission reaffirmed in its declaration that the launch was a peaceful bid to send a satellite into space, but also clearly indicated the country’s rocket launches have a military purpose: to strike and attack the US.
The commission pledged to keep launching satellites and rockets and to conduct a nuclear test as part of a “new phase” of combat with the US, which it blames for leading the UN bid to punish Pyongyang. It said a nuclear test was part of “upcoming” action, but did not say exactly when or where it would take place.
“We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] 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,” it added.
It was a rare declaration by the powerful commission and made clear Kim’s commitment to continue developing the country’s nuclear and missile programs in defiance of the council, even at risk of further international isolation.
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 miniaturize than the plutonium bombs it tested in 2006 and 2009, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.
Experts say the North must conduct further tests of its atomic devices and master the technique for making them smaller before they can be mounted as nuclear warheads onto long-range missiles.
The US Department of State had no immediate response to yesterday’s statement. Shortly before the commission issued its declaration, US envoy ro North Korea Glyn Davies urged Pyongyang not to explode an atomic device.
South Korea’s top official on relations with the North said Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development is a “cataclysm for the Korean people.”
“The North Korean behavior is very disappointing,” South Korean Minister for Unification Yu Woo-ik said in a lecture in Seoul, his office said.