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North Korea threatens new nuclear tests

Photo: AFP (The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre in North Korea)

North Korea on Sunday threatened to conduct what it called “a new form of nuclear test” as it hit back at United Nations Security Council condemnation of the country’s recent ballistic missile launch.

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"(We) will not rule out a new form of a nuclear test aimed at strengthening our nuclear deterrence," Pyongyang's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the North's state-run KCNA news agency.

It gave no further indication of what such a test might entail.

The threats follow the North’s firing of two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula on Wednesday.

It was the first of such mid-range missiles, capable of reaching Japan, in four years and came after a series of short-range rocket launches over the past two months.

The tests were condemned by the 15-member Security Council on Thursday, which said the launches violated UN resolutions.

In its statement Sunday, Pyongyang slammed the UN criticism as "unacceptable", defending the launches as a "self-defensive" act in protest against ongoing Seoul-Washington joint military drills being held in South Korea.

"It is highly unacceptable that the UNSC condemns our self-defensive rocket tests... while turning a blind eye to the nuclear war practice by the US that triggered our act," the foreign ministry said.

"In case the US takes issue with us again by calling our move a 'provocation,' we have prepared to take various steps that the enemy can hardly imagine.

"If a catastrophic development which no one wants occurs on the peninsula, the US will be wholly responsible for it," it said.

The impoverished but nuclear-armed state has staged three atomic tests in the past, in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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