PYONGYANG –North Korea’s National Defense Commission says the reclusive state will conduct an “all-out confrontation battle” that will include further satellite and long-range launches, as well as what it calls a nuclear test of a “higher level.” It says these actions will be aimed at its sworn enemy, the United States.
Some experts speculate the reference to an enhanced nuclear test likely will be an attempt to detonate a uranium bomb, compared to the plutonium devices North Korea tested in 2006 and 2009.
The statement, carried by the state’s official news agency and broadcast on radio Thursday, totally rejects Tuesday’s U.N. Security Council condemnation of North Korea, calling it an illegal resolution concocted by the United States.
An announcer, reading the defense commission statement, says “settling accounts with the United States needs to be done with force, not with words as the U.S. regards jungle law as the rule for survival.”
The Security Council imposed additional sanctions on Pyongyang for its December 12 long-range rocket launch.
The resolution came after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations on wording between the United States and China, which is North Korea’s sole remaining significant ally.
South Korea Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young says the latest statement from Pyongyang is deeply regrettable.
Cho says North Korea is urged to “pay heed to the international community’s constant warnings and not commit any further provocative acts, including nuclear tests.”
Glyn Davies, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea issues who is in Seoul for meetings with South Korean officials before heading to Beijing and Tokyo, was asked to comment on reports citing intelligence that a nuclear test could be imminent.
“It’s not for me to predict whether they will test or not. We hope they don’t. We call on them not to do it. It would be highly provocative. It would set back the cause of trying to find a solution to these long-standing problems that have prevented the peninsula from becoming reunited. I think it’s very important that they don’t test,” said Davies.
Analysts such as Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group expect Pyongyang will ignore such appeals.
“Many people say they will not test because there will be costs. And certainly there are costs. Pyongyang realizes that. But from their orientation it’s imperative to have strength and to have powerful military capabilities. I think that factor will probably override any consideration about costs or sanctions. And so I would not be surprised to see a nuclear test,” he said.
North Korea contends its December 12 launch was a peaceful mission that placed an earth observation satellite into orbit.
The launch was widely condemned in the international community as a violation of previous U.N. sanctions prohibiting North Korea from utilizing ballistic missile technology.