North Korea promises 'Stronger' response to the US sanctions over nuclear testing


North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks with military officials during an observation of a missile test on Tuesday. | KCNA / KNS / VIA AFP-JIJI

North Korea has retaliated against US sanctions imposed in response to recent hypersonic missile tests that aroused new security concerns, threatening a "stronger and more certain response" to Washington's attempt to halt its weapons programs.

North Korea's pursuit of sophisticated hypersonic missiles capable of evading existing defenses is a "legitimate right," the country's Foreign Ministry stated in a statement. Washington's decision to impose penalties on North Koreans involved in advancing the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs was a dangerous escalation. In a report posted Friday via the state-run Korean Central News Agency, the ministry warned.

Typically, a dispatch from the Foreign Ministry is reserved for North Korea's most critical communications to the rest of the world. The declaration heightens tensions when the Biden administration is pressuring Kim Jong Un to resume nuclear disarmament negotiations that have been stalled for nearly three years. Kim's administration has rebuffed diplomatic overtures, increased its production of fissile material for nuclear bombs, and conducted tests of new delivery systems for nuclear weapons.

"The US is purposefully escalating the situation, even with the imposition of independent sanctions, and is not satisfied with referring the DPRK's legitimate activity to the United Nations Security Council," the ministry said, referring to the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"If the US takes such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to respond with a more robust and determined response," it warned.

The heightened tensions between the US and North Korea come less than a week after Pyongyang fired two missiles designed to deploy a hypersonic glide vehicle capable of maneuvering at high speeds during an unpowered flight to attack a target. Kim presided over a weapons test for the first time in nearly two years on Tuesday when he witnessed the launch of a hypersonic system North Korea said executed "corkscrew" maneuvers and hit a target 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) distant.

The US Treasury Department identified five North Koreans living abroad — one in Russia and four in China — on Wednesday for assisting the North Korean regime's nuclear development.

Sung Kim, the United States' point man on North Korea, met separately with his counterparts in Japan and South Korea following the latest tests, emphasizing that Washington condemned the moves for violating United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests. According to the State Department, he also urged North Korea to quit "destabilizing activities" and return to the negotiating table.

Kim's leadership has been subjected to tighter United Nations sanctions in retaliation for 2017 nuclear and missile tests, which had contributed significantly to North Korea's economy shrinking even further than it was a decade ago when Kim assumed office. The Biden administration has signaled that it may offer economic incentives for efforts toward nuclear disarmament.

"These designations express our grave and continuing concern about the DPRK's continued proliferation activities and those who support them," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week in a statement. "We remain committed to engaging the DPRK in dialogue and diplomacy and encourage the DPRK to engage in negotiations."

North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the US of employing "gangster-like" sanctions, which it claimed indicated Washington's lack of interest in discussions.

"This demonstrates that, while the current US administration trumpets diplomacy and dialogue, it is still deeply committed to isolating and suffocating the DPRK," the foreign ministry said. "The DPRK will not relinquish its just cause."

Publish : 2022-01-14 11:23:00

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