North Korea on Friday said it would view South Korean participation in toughened U.N. Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang as an act of war, Reuters reported.
The Security Council on Wednesday approved adding six more individuals and four new entities to sanctions lists for their involvement in the North's banned ballistic missile and nuclear arms development programs. Pyongyang was being punished for its December firing of a space rocket in violation of U.N. rules against its use of ballistic missile technology.
"'Sanctions' mean a war and a declaration of war against us," the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea stated. "If the puppet group of traitors [in Seoul] takes a direct part in the U.N. 'sanctions,' the D.P.R.K. will take strong physical countermeasures against it."
North Korea also this week threatened to carry out new missile and nuclear tests that would target the United States, which it blames for the latest Security Council condemnation.
The Foreign Ministry for Pyongyang ally China on Friday once again urged restraint. "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," spokesman Hong Lei said.
Chinese state-run news organizations were less diplomatic in voicing frustration with the situation. "It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China's efforts," said a commentary in the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times newspaper.
Beijing is the North's principal international defender and lead economic benefactor.
Glyn Davies, U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy, said on Friday after talks in Beijing that "we reached strong consensus that a nuclear test will be troubling and will set back efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Denuclearization is a necessary precondition to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," the Associated Press reported.
The onslaught of threats from the North this week contain some of the most strident language from the Kim Jong Un regime, which took power slightly more than a year ago following the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il. Still, Pyongyang on multiple occasions in recent years has threatened to launch a "sacred war" against the South only for no attack to appear. The last such act was the November 2010 shelling of the South's Yeonpyeong Island.
"It's not the first time they've made a similar threat of war," North Korean studies professor Ryoo Kihl-jae told AP. "What's more serious than the probability of an attack on South Korea is that of a nuclear test. I see very slim chances of North Korea following through with its threat of war."
Meanwhile, the U.S. State and Treasury departments on Thursday added the Korean Committee for Space Technology and two senior managers to a domestic sanctions list in accordance with the new U.N. directive.