US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn
Davies speaks to the media in Beijing after North Korea
threatened to attack South Korea if the latter joined a new
round of tightened UN sanctions. REUTERS/Jason Lee
North Korea has threatened to attack rival South Korea if
Seoul joins a new round of tightened UN sanctions, as
Washington unveils more of its own economic restrictions
following Pyongyang's rocket launch last month.
In a third straight day of fiery rhetoric, the North directed
its verbal onslaught at its neighbour on Friday, saying:
"'Sanctions' mean a war and a declaration of war against us."
The reclusive North this week declared a boycott of all
dialogue aimed at ending its nuclear programme and vowed to
conduct more rocket and nuclear tests after the UN Security
Council censured it for a December long-range missile launch.
"If the puppet group of traitors takes a direct part in the
UN 'sanctions,' the DPRK will take strong physical
counter-measures against it," the North's Committee for the
Peaceful Reunification of Korea said, referring to the South.
The committee is the North's front for dealings with the
South. The North's official name is the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Speaking in Beijing, US Special Representative for North
Korea Policy Glyn Davies said he found North Korea's rhetoric
"troubling and counterproductive," and that he and his
Chinese counterparts had agreed a new nuclear test would be
"We will judge North Korea by its actions, not its words.
These types of inflammatory statements by North Korea do
nothing to contribute to peace and stability on the
peninsula," he said.
"What North Korea has done through its actions, in particular
through the launch on Dec. 12 of a rocket in contravention of
Security Council resolutions, is they have made it that much
more difficult to contemplate getting back to a diplomatic
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland
urged North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un to choose a
different path, rather than "continue to waste what little
money the country has on missile technologies and things
while his people go hungry."
The UN Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's
December rocket launch on Tuesday and expanded existing UN
On Thursday, the United States slapped economic sanctions on
two North Korean bank officials and a Hong Kong trading
company that it accused of supporting Pyongyang's
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The company, Leader (Hong Kong) International Trading Ltd,
was separately blacklisted by the United Nations on
Seoul has said it will look at whether there are any further
sanctions that it can implement alongside the United States,
but said the focus for now is to follow Security Council
The resolution said the council "deplores the violations" by
North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned
Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and
nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for
those programmes. It does not impose new sanctions on
The United States had wanted to punish North Korea for the
rocket launch with a Security Council resolution that imposed
entirely new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing
rejected that option. China agreed to UN sanctions against
Pyongyang after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.
Nuland declined to speculate whether the United States thinks
the UN steps would change North Korea's behavior.
"What's been important to us is strong unity among the
six-party talks countries; strong unity in the region about a
positive course forward; and the fact that there will be
consequences if they keep making bad choices," she said.
Long-dormant six-nation talks brought together the United
States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas in
negotiations to try to induce Pyongyang to abandon its
nuclear arms quest in exchange for economic aid and
NUCLEAR TEST WORRY
North Korea's rhetoric this week amounted to some of the
angriest outbursts against the outside world coming under the
leadership of Kim Jong-un, who took over after the death of
his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.
On Thursday, the North said it would carry out further rocket
launches and a nuclear test, directing its ire at the United
States, a country it called its "sworn enemy".
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the comments were
"We are very concerned with North Korea's continuing
provocative behavior," he said at a Pentagon news conference.
"We are fully prepared ... to deal with any kind of
provocation from the North Koreans. But I hope in the end
that they determine that it is better to make a choice to
become part of the international family."
North Korea is not believed to have the technology to deliver
a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United
States, although its December launch showed it had the
capacity to deliver a rocket that could travel 10,000 km
(6,200 miles), potentially putting San Francisco in range,
according to an intelligence assessment by South Korea.
South Korea and others who have been closely observing
activities at the North's known nuclear test grounds believe
Pyongyang is technically ready to go ahead with its third
atomic test and awaiting the political decision of its
The North's committee also declared on Friday that a landmark
agreement it signed with the South in 1992 on eliminating
nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula was invalid,
repeating its long-standing accusation that Seoul was
colluding with Washington.
The foreign ministry of China, the North's sole remaining
major diplomatic and economic benefactor, repeated its call
for calm on the Korean peninsula at its daily briefing
earlier on Friday.
"The current situation on the Korea peninsula is complicated
and sensitive," spokesman Hong Lei said.
"We hope all relevant parties can see the big picture,
maintain calm and restraint, further maintain contact and
dialogue, and improve relations, while not taking actions to
further complicate and escalate the situation," Hong said.
But unusually prickly comments in Chinese state media on
Friday hinted at Beijing's exasperation.
"It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China's
efforts," said the Global Times in an editorial, a sister
publication of the official People's Daily.
"Just let North Korea be 'angry' ... China hopes for a stable
peninsula, but it's not the end of the world if there's
trouble there. This should be the baseline of China's