November 21, 2014 09:57
North Korea on Thursday threatened another nuclear test in protest against an impending UN resolution recommending referral of the reclusive state to the International Criminal Court for human rights abuses.
North Korea has unleashed a stream of threats after the UN human rights committee passed the draft resolution.
In a statement Thursday, a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the North rejects the "forceful passing" of the draft resolution by the UN committee, adding this makes the North "unable to refrain any longer from conducting a new nuclear test."
"Our war deterrent will be strengthened infinitely in the face of the United States' plot for armed interference and invasion," the spokesman added.
Analysis of satellite pictures suggests that the North has already put a nuclear reactor in Yongbyon back into operation to produce the requisite plutonium.
On Nov. 4, "steam was seen rising from a large cooling tower at auxiliary buildings just southeast of the plutonium separation building," the Johns Hopkins University blog 38 North said Wednesday. "Throughout the summer and into fall 2014 there was little activity at this facility."
"Steam coming from a nearby large cooling tower is consistent with maintenance and testing (as well as possibly the making of chemicals related to reprocessing) and would be one of the first steps taken before commencing operations," the report adds.
Defense Minister Han Min-koo told the National Assembly Defense Committee here, "We believe that the North is always preparing to conduct a new nuclear test. But we don't know whether it's possible in the near future."
The North is evidently upset that the resolution calls for the referral of senior North Korean officials to the ICC, a government official here said. "Nobody can rule out the possibility of the North launching provocations of any type."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il warned, "If the North aggravates the situation with nuclear threats, it will be violating a UN Security Council resolution. We must warn North Korea that it will face a firm response from the international community."
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