North Korea said Tuesday the United States would pay a "terrifying price" if it contributes to tensions on the Korean Peninsula, hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attacked Pyongyang for its nuclear development program.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a regional security conference in Laos that whether his country conducts another nuclear test will "entirely hinge on the United States' attitude."
Ri said North Korea was ready to face new United Nations sanctions imposed on it in March as a deterrent against its nuclear ambitions, saying it made the "inevitable strategic decision" to proceed with its nuclear weapons program because of the "never-ending nuclear blackmails of the U.S."
Kerry, the top U.S. diplomat, told the southeast Asian gathering that if Iran can give up nuclear weapons development, as it did in last year's negotiated pact with the U.S. and five other world powers, so can North Korea.
But North Korea alone, Kerry said, is "the only country in the world defying the international movement towards responsibility, continues to develop its own weapon, continues to develop its missiles, continues the provocative actions."
Kerry added, "North Korea in January did another nuclear test. In February, March, April, May; continually they have done missile tests. So together we are determined, all of us assembled here - perhaps with one exception assembled here - to make absolutely certain (North Korea) understands that there are real consequences for these actions."
Ri questioned the legitimacy of the U.N. sanctions, saying there is no article in the U.N. charter that says nuclear or missile tests are threats to international peace.
The North Korean diplomat said the U.S. recently "committed the most grave hostility by insulting our Dear Leader," North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, by personally blacklisting him for human rights abuses.