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13 Jun, 2009 20:24

Pyongyang’s antics: aggression or desperation?

Although North Korea is threatening to turn all its plutonium into plutonium-based nuclear bombs, not everyone believes the situation is as serious as it looks.

The US State Department has promised to pursue further tough sanctions against North Korea for Pyongyang’s threats to go to war if any attempt is made to blockade the country.

But most experts believe Pyongyang is not ready for combat.

“I don't think that North Korea's threats to go to war are as serious as they may seem. They've been saying on numerous occasions that certain actions of the US or their allies would be interpreted as acts of war. But so far the North has not initiated any military conflict,” says Konstantin Asmolov from Korean Studies Center of the Russian Academy of Science.

Pyongyang reacted just hours after the UN Security Council adopted a new set of sanctions against the republic for testing a nuclear device last month.

The resolution was adopted unanimously.

"The message of this resolution is clear: North Korea's behavior is unacceptable to the international community and the international community is determined to respond. North Korea should return without conditions to a peaceful dialogue,” said Rosemary Di Carlo, the U.S. alternate representative to the UN.

Pyongyang will now be deprived of finance for its programs and all military exports to the country are banned, except small firearms.

To enforce the sanctions, the UN Security Council has authorized the searching of suspicious vessels on the high seas.

The U.S. wanted even tougher sanctions. But Russia prevented a full economic embargo, so normal trade could continue.

“Additional sanctions against North Korea are tightly linked with attempts to stop the country's activity in creating nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. At the same time they don't restrict people's rights on humanitarian and economic support,” Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said.

The Security Council's position is clear – but the new resolution still gives Pyongyang a chance to return to talks if it cooperates, something which seems unlikely at the moment.

North Korea blames the United States for the latest tensions, saying it was compelled to go nuclear in the face of what it calls a hostile policy.

Washington asserts that it has no intention of launching an attack but is adamant that Pyongyang should not be in a position where it can sell nuclear technology to other nations.

The situation may be about to get even worse: reports suggest North Korea is getting ready to test yet another nuclear device.