North Korea on Saturday said it had no choice but to detonate another atomic device, Agence France-Presse reported.
Pyongyang threatened to carry out its third nuclear test last week in response to a fresh U.N. Security Council rebuke of the North's December launch of a long-range rocket, which was widely viewed as another trial of ballistic missile technology. The powerful 15-member U.N. body unanimously voted to expand existing sanctions targeting individuals and entities associated with North Korea's WMD programs.
"A nuclear test is the demand of the people," the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in an editorial. "We have no other option."
"The people’s demand is that we must do something even greater than a nuclear test. The United Nations Security Council has left us with no other options. We have no other ways but to push forward to the final showdown," the newspaper said.
The Stalinist state frequently makes big threats after being punished by the international community but then fails to follow up with the promised action. Still, the North has a track record of detonating nuclear devices after it has been penalized by the Security Council for its missile tests. Concerns this time around are nearing their highest point in years that another underground blast is imminent following the release of recent surveillance satellite images of the country's Punggye-ri test site that suggest an advanced level of technical preparations.
North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un directed his senior political and armed services staffers to implement "substantial and high-profile important state measures" in response to last week's U.N. resolution, the New York Times reported. The statement carried by state-controlled media did not detail just what actions were to be taken though it did reference last week's threats of new rocket launches and another nuclear test that would be aimed at the United States.
South Korea's No.1 military official on Monday confirmed that North Korea could carry out another atomic trial at any point, the Yonhap News Agency reported. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Jung Seung-jo called on the South's armed forces to remain on high alert for dangers emanating from the North.
Seoul's unification minister, Yu Woo-ik, said on Monday the government would work with partner nations to compel the North to refrain from detonating an atomic device, Yonhap separately reported.
China through its state-managed media has been atypically direct in its criticism of its longtime ally's plans for another nuclear test. Still, issue analysts do not believe the Chinese government would go so far as cutting off the economic aid that has propped up the Kim family for generations, as that would likely lead to a regime failure, according to Agence France-Presse.