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: Guest Response from: Wisconsin
January 24, 2013 7:38 AM
Note the use of "sworn enemy". Wouldn't it be better if they are forcibly denied the development of nuclear weapons? Do you think that maybe they have sworn vows to retake south korea in time?

In Response

by: iamhe from: New Haven CT
January 24, 2013 12:14 PM
I think you have fallen victim to a misunderstanding concerning the use of "sworn enemy"

From NK's point of view.. try to understand, the US has officially declared -sworn- that NK is an enemy state.

Given under oath: "a sworn statement" and determined to remain in the role of a sworn enemy. Having been asserted as true under oath: sworn statements by a sworn official. Avowed: a sworn enemy.

Making such statements, and holding such positions is sure to make NK react in an unfavorable way...

A sure fire way to make enemies, and set the stage for highly profitable US war budgets..

by: iamhe from: New Haven CT
January 24, 2013 7:29 AM
I am sorry to have to say that the way in which the US frames this and handles North Korea is all wrong, and unnecessarily provocative and dangerous...
And it does look like, and for a long time now, that the UN is controlled by the US.. The UN has never stood up against the US when it should have... hind sight shows that the UN should have stood up to the US on a number of international issues.. I sincerely believe I could do a better job in managing US relations with nuclearized North Korea, and Iran...
In Response

January 24, 2013 11:16 PM
Sorry to say The U.N. hasn't stood up to anyone or actually put focus on helping people under brutal regimes- The U.N. is a farce and needs to be dismantled.

by: ben from: uk
January 24, 2013 6:37 AM
no where does it mention "aimed" at anyone, quit scare mongering
In Response

by: S from: UK
January 24, 2013 3:06 PM
Maybe you could learn to spell before you tell someone to learn to read?
In Response

by: Rick Rife from: United Staes Of America
January 24, 2013 2:23 PM
learn how to read. it stated that it was aimed at the United States, their srown enemy. love it or leave

by: x4livin from: Texas
January 24, 2013 5:57 AM
Why are we sending money to our "sworn enemy"?
In Response

by: soshaljustic from: NV
January 24, 2013 1:11 PM
Because people in poverty need to eat and it is the clearest path to making a sworn friend. There is no need to squash a poor peoples with an overgrowth of egoistic short and bad hair leaders. The citizen people cannot help they have ignorance leading the way within a totalitarian state that would murder them if they speak out or do anything to rise up. At least some of the food trickles down to the people from the "sworn enemy" that is us.
Comments page of 2

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