News / Asia

North Korea Vows New Nuclear Test 'Aimed' at US

Punggye-ri, North Korea nuclear test sitePunggye-ri, North Korea nuclear test site
Punggye-ri, North Korea nuclear test site
Punggye-ri, North Korea nuclear test site
North Korea is amplifying its rhetoric about carrying out more rocket launches and a third nuclear test.

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.”

North Korea's nuclear and missile program:

  • August 1998: Test fires Taepodong-1, its first long-range rocket.
  • September 1999: Pledges to freeze long-range missile tests amid improving ties with U.S.
  • March, 2005: Ends moratorium on missile tests, blames "hostile" policy of U.S.
  • July 5, 2006: Test fires long-range Taepodong-2, which fails less than a minute after launch.
  • July 15, 2006: U.N. Security Council demands Pyongyang halt missile program.
  • October 9, 2006: Conducts first underground nuclear test.
  • October 15, 2006: U.N. Security Council demands halt to missile and nuclear tests, bans sale of weapons
  • April 5, 2009: Launches long-range rocket that lands in Pacific. Claims success, but U.S. says no satellite placed in orbit.
  • April 13, 2009: U.N. Security Council condemns launch, tightens sanctions. Pyongyang quits six-party nuclear talks.
  • May 2009: Conducts second underground nuclear test.
  • June 2009: Security Council imposes tougher sanctions.
  • February 2012: Announces moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile programs in exchange for U.S. food aid.
  • April 2012: Launches long-range rocket, which falls apart shortly after lift-off.
  • December 2012: Launches Unha-3 rocket, and declares success in placing satellite in orbit.
  • January 2013: U.N. Security Council condemns December rocket launch, North Korea says it will conduct a third nuclear test.
  • February 2013: Conducts third nuclear test.
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.

North Korean Nuclear Tests

  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Powered by plutonium
  • Released radioactive materials

  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Seismic signals were consistent with a nuclear test
  • Radioactive material was not detected
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.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: olums12 from: Lagos
January 25, 2013 4:40 PM
It's imperative all parties tread carefully over this issue. When an adult is locked up in a room for too long, he starts behaving and talking like a child, he may attempt suicide due to frustration. Even, if there is problem all over the world or famine everywhere, people are not willing to die.

by: Maxpain from: Marsy
January 25, 2013 10:59 AM
in my opinion 23 years sanction made north korea insane.north korea cant attack to u.s because it will have powerful they are just keep threating .

by: Paris tun from: Myanmar
January 25, 2013 10:07 AM
One of the most dumbest regime in the world, obviously. What is the point in provoking the super power? But in the end, it is the N.Korean people who will have to pay the ultimate price( sanctions, isolation etc) for their evil and dumb leaders.
The world is still in a state of shyness to completely destroy the Kim jong un regime. It is totally confusing to see that these evil regime can implement their hateful and evil plan without having to worry about punishment.
I know the frustration, that the N.Korean people are feeling cos' I also had to live under a evil dictator. In short, no rights, no voice, no opportunities , no hopes for a better future.You are a total fool if you hope for a better future under a dictator. They crushed all the reasons to be optimistic and hopeful by ruling unjustly and secretly.

by: Su Chunbo from: china
January 25, 2013 4:12 AM
I bet that the U.S. will use force to North Korea in Obama's second term.

by: Greg Fisher from: Albuquerque, New Mexico
January 24, 2013 8:18 PM
I can see it now: One night--whether it is a spontaneous demonstration, a deliberate launch, or just a couple of guys out to kill won't possibly make any difference...North Korea will launch a missile--said by our intelligence experts to be incapable of delivering a nuclear warhead to America--and, the missile will actually make it and destroy something on the West Coast. The intelligence community will be pilloried and they will point fingers at the military, the Department of State, the FBI--and, anything else in their range of sight. The administration will sieze upon something--anything--to explain how this could have happened... and, how it couldn't possibly have been foreseen. If possible, they will find a convenient YouTube video to bring into the mix. The Senate will be opposed to any military response while the House of Reps will demand we turn North Korea into a glass parking lot. The POTUS will pacify the left by uttering sincere apologies to North Korea for America's former rogue-ish behavior and pacify the right by freezing the assets of some obscure terrorist group with no connection to the incident whatsoever. The POTUS, VP, and John Kerry (now the Secretary of State) will grimly console the nation in this time of terrible tragedy...and, the FBI will be dispatched to North Korea to investigate the entire incident as a criminal offense. Six months later the entire incident will be forgotten as the main stream media moves on to cover Tot Mom, Casey Anthony, in her run for the House of Representatives from the great state of North Dakota.
In Response

by: THARN from: U.S.A.
January 24, 2013 11:06 PM
It appears you have been paying attention to what has been going on in the U.S. unlike 60% of the rest of the population.
You hit it on the head.

by: WILLIAM from: Argentina
January 24, 2013 7:03 PM
Let a diplomacy a chance. The voices and challences from North korea, so im sure, are more from the stalinists dinosaurs, that the joung leader Kim Jong Un legated, than his own point of view. Its notorius that Jong Un call recently to the needs of opening of his country to abroad, also sended a new years eve last 2012 to the south koreans, more with em he spoke for the reunification in korean peninsula. surely Kim Jong Un is not the only in his country with the concept that, the nuclear program, and hostility kept North Korea in a not advance, for decades Leader Un also have to know the entrance of N.K. in the world econmy,only would to happen, in a no nuclear proliferation. and peaceful relations with the U.S. the people of the north koorean territory, suffered hungry and weak rice harvests. Jong Un represent the new fresh waves of progress, but the dinossaurs, political and military, legated from his father are very tigh strong. I beg the International Comunity Leaders, to try to comunicate as quick as posible with the new presidency in Pyongyang, to restart the food, energy US International programe as a complentary effort to stablish formal U.S.-Nort Korean tighs. id like to see if this would to be read in the list of comments. thanks

by: John Steinmetz from: Albuquerque
January 24, 2013 5:55 PM
Gosh, don't you wish that Japan could get off it's island and push it farther away?

by: Grandpa Dave from: NW Florida Panhandle
January 24, 2013 5:49 PM
Ladies and Gentleman... This should be an excellent time to test out are missle defence systems. Hopefully, the NMD agency at Redstone, AL is working out the details as I write this today.

by: NVO from: USA
January 24, 2013 11:16 AM
It will be another Wiley Coyote failed rocket attempt purchased from Acme. What a sham.

by: Richard McCabe
January 24, 2013 8:45 AM
I expect Obama to send them a strongly worded apology.
In Response

January 26, 2013 10:23 PM
To Richard Mc Cabe. Dear Richard, im concern for the facts in corean peninsula,just like you, but i wanna tell you that im sure that the last warnings from Pyonyang are caused by the whrath caused for lnew sanctions in the Security Coouncil in a unfortunate moment; just when the reformist potencial president Un tryed to open his economy, and distend their aggressive rethorics. I believe shared with you, that the International Community must to aproach to the dirigency of Pyongyang, and restart a diplomatic solution to the conflict. I repeated to you, all this deploy of missiles are for the sanctions. wishes, Billy
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