North Korea said on Thursday that it is poised to carry out a nuclear test and fire more long-range rockets in the direction of the U.S., but did not offer any time frame for its plans.
"We do not hide that the various satellites and long-range rockets we will continue to launch, as well as the high-level nuclear test we will proceed with, are aimed at our arch-enemy the United States," North Korea's National Defense Commission said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea has twice conducted nuclear tests — in 2006 and 2009 — in response to U.N. sanctions punishing rocket launches by Pyongyang.
Earlier on Wednesday, North Korea's Foreign Ministry hinted that it may conduct another nuclear test.
The threat was contained in an angry reaction from Pyongyang to a United Nations Security Council resolution, which condemned a rocket launch by North Korea in December and imposed more sanctions on the communist nation.
China, an ally of North Korea, supported the resolution that was approved on Tuesday. The resolution warned of "significant" action if North Korea carries out another nuclear test.
"We absolutely refute all the illegal and outlawed resolutions adopted by the Security Council," the National Defense Commission said.
The commission did not say when a nuclear test could take place.
"We don't know for sure whether it is the right time for them to test technically," said Daniel Pinkston, a Seoul-based analyst with the International Crisis Group. "They have several reasons to conceal information about that, so we cannot be certain. However, I think they probably are ready."
"But you can't develop nuclear weapons in a political vacuum. The leadership must consider political variables," he added. "But the political variable is complicated as well in the sense that it has three dimensions: domestic, inter-Korean, and international."
Glyn Davies, the Obama administration's top official for North Korea policy said on Wednesday that a nuclear test by Pyongyang would be a "mistake."
The Obama administration and South Korea's President-elect Park Geun-hye have left open the door for dialogue with Pyongyang.
During her election campaign, Miss Park said she would consider economic assistance to North Korea on the condition that Pyongyang makes a commitment to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
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