North claims it doesn’t have plan to test nukes

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North claims it doesn’t have plan to test nukes

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The most recent image, taken by DigitalGlobe on May 9 and analyzed by IHS Jane’s, shows new roads as well as carts and a vehicle at the North’s nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. Provided by IHS Jane’s

Pyongyang publicly said they don’t have any plans to carry out a nuclear weapon test, denying speculation that the test would happen soon as part of its military provocations following the long-range rocket launch.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency released a statement on Tuesday night in which the unnamed spokesman for the Foreign Ministry denounced the recent G8 Summit held in the United States.

“We strongly condemn how the participants of the summit of eight countries unfairly criticized our peaceful satellite launch and nuclear deterrence for self-defense,” the statement read. “In fact, we didn’t forecast any military measures such as a nuclear test, because we planned only a peaceful satellite launch for scientific technology from the beginning.”

“Despite our efforts for peace, we can’t help but take measures for self-defense if the United States is sticking to the pressure and sanction games.”

Speculation has been high that the regime would soon carry out an underground nuclear weapons test, as part of their nuclear program package after the launch of long-range satellite Kwangmyongsong-3.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it’s rare for North Korea to publicly speak about a nuclear test.

“However, the point is not whether they have a plan for a nuclear test,” Kim Hyung-suk, the ministry’s spokesman said yesterday. “North Korea is still insistent on developing its nuclear weapons, apparently shown in yesterday’s statement as well.”

Victoria Nuland, spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, also said they won’t believe the comment until the regime backs it up.

“Well, I think Ambassador Davies, you know, responded to the extent that we’re going to respond,” Nuland said at a briefing held Tuesday. “We’re going to be guided not by what they say, but what they do.”

In fact, the statement still said, “Our self-defense nuclear deterrence is triggered by the U.S. government’s hostile policies that try to crash our regime and we will expand and strengthen the deterrence as far as the U.S. continues those policies.”

However, Pyongyang also said that “there’s always a way for a dialogue and negotiation,” and they have been “cautious in taking action even after the May 29 bilateral food deal with the U.S. was broken,” raising speculation that they want to resume talks with the U.S.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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