North Korea vowed on Thursday to launch more long-range rockets and conduct its third nuclear test, ratcheting-up tensions following the U.N. Security Council’s decision to tighten sanctions against the country for launching a rocket last month.
In a statement issued through its state-run media, the National Defence Commission, the North’s highest governing agency, headed by its young leader Kim Jong-un, said 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” will be aimed at deterring the hostile policy of “the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people”.
The statement, which used the abbreviation for the North’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), did not clarify when it would conduct such a test, which would be the first since Mr. Kim came to power in December 2011. But citing preparations at the Punggye-ri test site in north-eastern North Korea, South Korean officials and news media said that Pyongyang can conduct a new underground nuclear test there on short notice.
North Korea had previously hinted at the possibility of conducting a nuclear test, as its Foreign Ministry did on Wednesday when it issued a scathing statement rejecting a unanimous resolution that the Security Council adopted on Tuesday.
The resolution tightened sanctions and condemned North Korea’s December 12 rocket launching as a violation of earlier resolutions prohibiting the country from conducting any tests involving ballistic missile technology.
The North’s statement on Thursday indicated that Mr. Kim, despite recent hints of economic reform and openness in North Korea, was likely to follow the pattern his father, Kim Jong-il, had established when he ran the country: a cycle of a rocket launching, U.N. condemnation and nuclear test.
Mr. Kim’s posture threw a direct challenge to President Barack Obama as he starts his second term, and to Park Geun-hye, who will be sworn in as President of South Korea next month.
After years of tensions with North Korea, both Mr. Obama and Ms. Park recently said they were keeping the door open for dialogue with North Korea on the premise that such engagement would lead to the eventual dismantling of its nuclear weapons programme.
On Thursday, the North’s National Defence Commission said the Security Council’s move convinced it to “launch an all-out action” to foil Washington’s hostile policy and “safeguard the sovereignty of the country and the nation”.
It said that North Korea’s drive to rebuild its moribund economy and its rocket programme, until now billed as a peaceful space project, will now “all orientate toward the purpose of winning in the all-out action for foiling the U.S”.
— New York Times News Service