SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea threatened again Thursday to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests, accusing the U.S. of having instigated some members of the U.N. Security Council to condemn its recent weapons tests.
The warning by Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry followed the weekend breakdown of North Korea-U.S. nuclear negotiations in Sweden, the first such talks between the countries in more than seven months. North Korea said the talks collapsed because the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.N. Security Council of North Korea’s recent ballistic missile and other weapons tests, including its first underwater-launched missile launch in three years on Oct. 2. North Korea said those tests were of the self-defense nature.
North Korea also accused the U.S. of being behind the European condemnation of its weapons tests after having “begged for working-level North Korea-U.S. talks” in Sweden.
On Tuesday, the U.N. council discussed the North’s latest underwater-launched missile test and its European members urged Pyongyang to abandon all weapons of mass destruction and engage in “meaningful negotiations” with the U.S. The council meeting was called by France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
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 Oct. 2 U.S. test of an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile, which it said was apparently designed to apply pressure on North Korea. A U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command statement said that such tests demonstrate the capability of the intercontinental ballistic missile system and are not a response to world events or regional tensions.
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 U.S.
North Korea last year suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests, partially dismantled its long-range rocket test site and dismantled its only known underground nuclear testing site.
U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at stripping North Korea of its nuclear program had been stalemated since the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February ended without any agreement. That summit fell apart because of Trump’s rejection of Kim’s demands for major sanctions relief in return for a limited denuclearization step.