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N Korea threatens to resume nuke, missile tests

AP

Seoul

North Korea threatened again on Thursday to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests, accusing the US of having instigated some members of the UN Security Council to condemn its recent weapons tests.

The warning by Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry followed the weekend breakdown of North Korea-US nuclear negotiations in Sweden, the first such talks between the countries in more than seven months.

North Korea said the talks collapsed because the US didn’t have any new proposals, and whether it maintains a self-imposed moratorium on major weapons tests was up to Washington.

Some observers say North Korea’s threat may be a tactic to pressure the US into making concessions as a restart of nuclear and long-range missile tests would likely derail negotiations, deepen its international isolation and further dim prospects for rebuilding its moribund economy.

A ministry statement took issue with condemnation Tuesday by the European members of the UN Security Council of North Korea’s recent ballistic missile and other weapons tests, including its first underwater-launched missile launch in three years on October 2. North Korea said those tests were of the self-defense nature.

North Korea also accused the US of being behind the European condemnation of its weapons tests after having “begged for working-level North Korea-US talks” in Sweden.

Council members Belgium and Poland joined in supporting the statement along with Estonia, which will join the council in January.

The North Korean statement said the condemnation is particularly a “grave provocation to us” because the Security Council didn’t act on the October 2 US test of an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile, which it said was apparently designed to apply pressure on North Korea.

North Korea said it can make a response “on the same level” but is refraining from doing that because it’s still unnecessary or premature to do so.

But the statement said that “our patience has a limit” and the European condemnation is pushing North Korea to reconsider whether to maintain the disarmament steps it has taken to build confidence with the US.

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