North Korean leader Kim Jong Un salutes as he and his wife
Ri Sol Ju walk past a guard of honour upon arriving for the
2014 Combat Flight Contest among commanding officers of the
Korean People's Air Force. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korea has renewed a threat to conduct a nuclear
test amid heightened concern that the reclusive state with a
stockpile of missiles may set off an atomic device for the
fourth time on the path to building a nuclear arsenal.
North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the
country was justified in using all available means at its
disposal to counter aggressive challenges by the United
States and South Korea aimed at stifling its sovereignty.
North Korea clarifies "its resolute stand that it would take
counter-measures including nuclear test to protect the
sovereignty and dignity," the newspaper said in a commentary
carried by the official KCNA news agency.
The threat comes days after statements by South Korea's
defence minister that preparations for a new test appear to
be near completion although analysis by an American think
tank last week suggested a test may not be imminent.
A US official said the United States is "closely monitoring"
the situation on the Korean peninsula and urged North Korea
to refrain from actions that could threaten regional peace.
"The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the
defense of its allies and continues to coordinate closely
with both the Republic of Korea and Japan," National Security
Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in an emailed
North Korea had stepped up the threat in March to show off
its military strength to counter what it said was hostility
led by the United States after the U.N. Security Council
condemned Pyongyang's launch of mid-range missiles into the
"We would not rule out a new form of nuclear test for
bolstering up our nuclear deterrence," it said in March.
North Korea is under heavy sanctions imposed by several U.N.
resolutions adopted beginning in 2006 but has defied pressure
to abandon its missile and nuclear programmes. It last
conducted a nuclear test in February last year.
The impoverished state under young leader Kim Jong Un has
channeled resources into building a nuclear arsenal and is
believed to be working to miniaturize a warhead to mount on
its long-range missiles to try to strike the mainland United
But general consensus among experts and officials is that it
is some time away from perfecting the technology.
North Korea has conducted engine tests for an
intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially
deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States, according to
a US think tank.