North Korea might set off third nuke
NEW YORK TIMES
SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea said Wednesday that its nuclear weapon program was no longer negotiable, and indicated that it might conduct its third nuclear test to retaliate against the U.N. Security Council's tightening of sanctions against the isolated yet highly militarized country.
Although it was not the first time North Korea issued such strident rhetoric, its posture, coming under the new leadership of Kim Jong Un, threw a direct challenge to President Barack Obama as he starts his second term, and Park Geun-hye, who will be sworn in as president of South Korea next month.
The North's comments came as the U.S. reaffirmed its policy of punishing North Korea for moving toward the development of long-range missiles tipped with a nuclear warhead, spearheading international backing for a unanimous Security Council resolution Tuesday.
The resolution condemned North Korea's Dec. 12 rocket launch as a violation of earlier resolutions banning the country from any tests involving ballistic missile technology, and tightened existing sanctions.
In a swift rejection of the U.N. warnings, North Korea said Wednesday that it will take "physical counteraction" to bolster its "nuclear deterrence both qualitatively and quantitatively." It said, "There can be talks for peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region in the future, but no talks for the denuclearization of the peninsula."
By "physical counteraction," analysts in Seoul said, North Korea most likely meant detonating another nuclear device to demonstrate advances in bomb-making.
In recent years, North Korea has made it increasingly clear that it is determined to keep its nuclear weapons at whatever cost, undermining a once-popular belief that the Pyongyang government's brinkmanship was a mere bargaining ploy.
On Wednesday, blaming Washington's "hostile policy," the North said it "drew a final conclusion that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is impossible unless the denuclearization of the world is realized." The 2005 deal in which North Korea and the U.S. agreed in principle upon the dismantling of the North's nuclear weapons program in return for diplomatic incentives "has now become defunct," it said.
"This is a strong message from North Korea basically saying that no matter how much economic aid it receives, no matter how flexible other countries become, it will be negotiating only on the premise that it will be accepted and treated as a nuclear power," said Choi Jin-wook, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.