N. Korea chides US for ‘laughable’ sanction threats after Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test

A sales assistant watches TV sets broadcasting a news report on North Korea's nuclear test, in Seoul, January 6, 2016. © Kim Hong-Ji
North Korea says plans to increase sanctions on the country for recently carrying out a nuclear test were “laughable.” Pyongyang defended its right to conduct such tests in order to “protect our dignity” amid threats of “nuclear war” from Washington.

The secretive nation set off its fifth and most powerful nuclear explosion to date on Friday, with North Korea saying it had successfully managed to put a warhead on a ballistic missile. The test brought a strong rebuke from the West, with Washington threatening to introduce additional sanctions on Pyongyang. 

“The group of Obama’s running around and talking about meaningless sanctions until today is highly laughable, when their ‘strategic patience’ policy is completely worn out and they are close to packing up to move out,” state-run KCNA news agency quoted a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman as saying, according to Reuters. 

The North Korean news agency added that Pyongyang had the right to defend itself against what it perceives as aggressive threats from the US. 

“As we’ve made clear, measures to strengthen the national nuclear power in quality and quantity will continue to protect our dignity and right to live from augmented threats of nuclear war from the United States,” KCNA stated. 

US President Barack Obama slammed the test as a “grave threat” and called for more sanctions on North Korea just hours after the test took place. 

“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” Obama said in a press release. Obama said he intends “to take additional significant steps, including new sanctions, to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions.” 

Meanwhile, South Korea is reported to have devised a plan to raze Pyongyang to the ground if it shows signs that it intends to launch a nuclear attack against the South. 

“Every Pyongyang district, particularly where the North Korean leadership is possibly hidden, will be completely destroyed by ballistic missiles and high-explosive shells as soon as the North shows any signs of using a nuclear weapon,” a military source in Seoul, whose name has not been disclosed, said on Sunday, as cited by Yonhap news agency. 

“In other words, the North’s capital city will be reduced to ashes and removed from the map,” the source stressed further. 

The strategy calls for pre-emptive bombing attacks on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the country’s military leadership using the South’s own ballistic missiles, according to Yonhap. As Seoul does not have its own nuclear arsenal, it relies heavily on its Hyunmoo missile arsenal, according to Yonhap’s source.  The South plans to carry out a number of tests on these missiles by next year.

Russia has urged all parties to remain calm and not to escalate the already tense situation, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressing that the UN Security Council resolutions “must be observed,” while saying that Moscow is “very concerned about the test.” 

“We insist that North Korea stop its dangerous adventurism, abide by all resolutions of the UN Security Council, cease its nuclear missile programs and re-join the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.