by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Sept 10, 2017
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un praised the "perfect success" of the country's sixth and largest nuclear test and urged further weapons development, according to state media Sunday, in the face of a US drive for tough new sanctions.
Pyongyang held a banquet, concert and performances in a weekend display of pageantry to celebrate the September 3 nuclear test, which the North said was a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted onto a rocket.
The blast, which came weeks after the country fired off two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that appeared to bring much of the mainland US into range, prompted global condemnation and calls to ramp up sanctions against the isolated nation.
But the North's leader appeared deaf to the international outrage and hailed the "perfect success in the test of H-bomb" at a dinner to congratulate the scientists and technicians behind the nuclear programme, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday.
Dubbing the latest test the "great auspicious event of the national history", he called for "redoubled efforts" to complete the country's mission to fully become a recognised nuclear power.
A two-page spread carried by the North's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Sunday showed photos of Kim and his wife Ri Sol-Ju attending a special concert held for the nuclear scientists and technicians.
A slew of brazen tests in recent months, which contravene existing United Nations sanctions, has sparked surging tensions over the North Korean weapons programme.
Pyongyang says it needs nuclear arms to protect itself, but the US has accused the isolated nation of "begging for war".
In an interview published on Sunday United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the showdown over North Korea's nuclear and missile programme was the world's worst crisis "in years" and had left him deeply worried.
"We have to hope that the seriousness of this threat puts us on the path of reason before it is too late," said Guterres in the French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
He also called for unity in the UN Security Council, which is set to consider a new draft resolution presented by Washington in recent days that would be the toughest-ever imposed on North Korea.
The US is calling for an oil embargo on the North, an assets freeze on Kim Jong-Un, a ban on textiles and an end to payments of North Korean guest workers.
It is hoping for a Monday vote though both China and Russia are thought to have raised opposition to the measures.
N. Korea official lambasts France over nuclear criticism
Ri Tok-Son, deputy director of the foreign ministry's European department, said France's claim that a nuclear missile launched from the North could strike Europe was "preposterous".
He stressed that the North's atomic arsenal was a deterrent against US nuclear threats which Paris does not face.
"Recently, high ranking French politicians startled the people by saying absurd things with regards to the DPRK's (North Korea's) successful detonation of an H-bomb for ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile)," Ri said in an interview with AFP in Pyongyang on Friday.
The comments came just hours before the US made a formal request for a UN Security Council vote on tough new sanctions against the repressive regime.
The North conducted its sixth nuclear test a week ago -- saying it was a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted into a missile -- sparking international condemnation and calls for further measures to force an end to the perilous stand-off.
French President Emmanuel Macron called on the UN Sunday to "quickly react" to the escalation and urged the European Union to come up with a "clear and united" response.
His foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that North Korea could have the capacity to deliver a nuclear strike on the US and even Europe "within months".
In a riposte, Ri said: "They busied themselves ... making preposterous remarks like 'the nuclear missile of North Korea are military means that can strike Europe'". He did not refer to Macron or Le Drian by name.
"It is ridiculous to say that the nuclear weapons of the DPRK, the deterrent force against the nuclear threat and blackmail of the US, can aim at Europe", he added.
"If nuclear weapons are such bad things, then France should first give up its nuclear weapons since it is not under anyone's nuclear threat."
Washington has presented a draft UN resolution calling for an oil embargo on North Korea, an assets freeze on leader Kim Jong-Un, a ban on textiles and an end to payments of North Korean guest workers.
While in North Korea, which was marking the nation's founding anniversary Saturday, local media issued fresh calls for a nuclear arms buildup, in defiance of the mounting international sanctions.
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 6, 2017
Japan Wednesday again upgraded its estimated size of North Korea's latest nuclear test to a yield of around 160 kilotons - more than ten times the size of the Hiroshima bomb. This marked Tokyo's second revision higher after previously giving estimates of 70 and 120 kilotons. Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters that his ministry's upward revision to 160 kilotons was based o ... read more
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