North Korea mocks US threat of unilateral sanctions

South Koreans watch TV news at Seoul station, in Seoul, South Korea on Sept 5, 2016. North Korea launched three ballistic missiles on Sept 5, 2016.
South Koreans watch TV news at Seoul station, in Seoul, South Korea on Sept 5, 2016. North Korea launched three ballistic missiles on Sept 5, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

It mocks US sanctions threat; report says Seoul has plan to 'decimate' Pyongyang

TOKYO/SEOUL • North Korea said yesterday that a push for further sanctions following its fifth and biggest nuclear test was "laughable", and vowed to continue to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.

The isolated state last Friday set off its most powerful nuclear explosion to date, saying it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up a threat its rivals and the United Nations have been unable to contain.

A US special envoy met Japanese officials yesterday and said later that the United States may launch unilateral sanctions against North Korea, echoing comments by US President Barack Obama last Friday in the wake of the test.

"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 cited a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying in a statement later in the day.

"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 added.

Another KCNA report yesterday said North Koreans were "delighted" by the nuclear test.

"The enemies can no longer deny the strategic position of our country as a nuclear weapons state," Mr Jong Won Sop, a teacher at the University of National Economy, was quoted as saying.

The reclusive nation also restated its demand for recognition as a "legitimate" nuclear-armed state, mocking Mr Obama's "totally bankrupt" policy on the country.

"Obama is trying hard to deny the DPRK's (North Korea's) strategic position as a legitimate nuclear weapons state, but it is as foolish an act as trying to eclipse the sun with a palm," said the statement quoted by KCNA.

Earlier, the South's Yonhap news agency, quoting a source in the military, reported that South Korea's military had a plan to use its missiles to "decimate"areas of Pyongyang if there were signs that the North was about to launch a nuclear attack.

Dubbed the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system, the counter-measure would "directly target" key North Korean sites - including its war command post - if any sign of a nuclear attack was detected, the report said.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye was expected to meet political party leaders today amid speculation that she will urge them to ease opposition to the deployment of a US missile defence system.

A presidential spokesman yesterday confirmed the meeting but gave no details of the subject.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Tensions rise as North Korea vows to boost nuclear arsenal'. Print Edition | Subscribe