North Korea plans a third nuclear test and long-range rocket launches that “will target our sworn enemy, the United States,” its National Defence Commission said on Thursday.
“In the new phase of our century-long struggle against the United States, we do not hide the fact that various satellites, long-range missiles that we will continue to launch and a high-level nuclear test we will conduct will target our sworn enemy, the United States,” the commission said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
The statement was issued after the U.N. Security Council Tuesday voted unanimously to impose additional sanctions on one of the world’s most highly sanctioned countries for a successful launch last month of a long-range rocket.
Countries that included the United States charged North Korea was using the launch to develop ballistic missile technology. North Korea insisted it was peaceful and aimed at putting a satellite into orbit.
A series of sanctions have been imposed on Pyongyang for its first nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and its rocket launches. They have failed to put a stop to them.
The Defence Commission called all the UN sanctions against North Korea unlawful and illegitimate and said they were led by the US and Washington’s anti-North Korea policy.
“Our peaceful satellites will continue to rise up without any disruption amid our national struggle to defend our right to self-defence,” said the commission, which is the top decision-making body in a communist country that has one of the world’s largest militaries and is one of the globe’s poorest nations.
Intelligence, including satellite photos, has indicated for months that North Korea was making preparations at its nuclear test site.
Seoul said it could now carry out another nuclear test at any time.
“It is our understanding that if the leadership gives consent, the North can detonate a nuclear device whenever it wants to,” a spokesman for South Korea’s Defence Ministry told the Yonhap News Agency.
The North’s statement about a third nuclear test came a day after North Korea vowed to expand its nuclear arsenal and said it would no longer participate in talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula because of Washington’s “worsening policy of hostility towards North Korea.” “We will undertake measures to strengthen our defensive military capacity, including our nuclear deterrent,” the Foreign Ministry said.
If a third nuclear test is carried out, it would be the first under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, who took over the rule of North Korea in December 2011 as the third member of the Kim dynasty to do so.
The United States sided with South Korea against the North in the 1950-53 Korean War, and Washington’s and Pyongyang’s relations have been marked by antagonism ever since. They have never established formal diplomatic ties.