In a bellicose statement released through state news agency KCNA, North Korea’s National Defence Commission described the United States as its “sworn enemy” and says the newest tests will be “targeted” at the US:
“We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States.”
While North Korea often directs aggressive statements towards neighboring South Korea — the North Korean administration has often threatened to reduce South Korean capital Seoul to a “sea of fire” — the United States is a less common target for such rhetoric. The latest threat is suspected to be a response to a US-backed resolution that sanctioned the totalitarian state for a rocket launch in December that defied existing bans.
Experts in South Korea have estimated North Korea is “technically ready” for a third nuclear test. Whether such tests go ahead will be decided by leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea previously conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. It has continually rejected proposals to re-enter the “six-party talks” aimed at curtailing its nuclear capacity.
Just as North Korea was announcing its intentions to carry out more nuclear tests, Washington urged the isolated nation to avoid further launches. Speaking in Seoul, top US envoy for North Korean diplomacy Glyn Davies stated:
“Whether North Korea tests or not is up to North Korea. We hope they don’t do it. We call on them not to do it. This is not a moment to increase tensions on the Korean peninsula.”