N.Korea threatens military action, to enrich uranium
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea on Saturday threatened military action if the United States tried to isolate it after the U.N. Security Council imposed widened sanctions against the reclusive communist state for a nuclear test in May.
The North also vowed to start a programme to enrich uranium and to weaponise plutonium at its nuclear weapons plant, the North's official news agency KCNA quoted its foreign ministry spokesman as saying.
The sanctions resolution approved on Friday banned all weapons exports from North Korea and most arms imports into the state. It authorized U.N. member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo, requiring them to seize and destroy any goods transported in violation of the sanctions.
A senior South Korean official said that North Korea may possibly respond to U.N. punishment with "another nuclear test and maybe more missiles."
"They will never, never give up their nuclear weapons," said the official who asked not to be named due to the sensitive subject matter.
North Korea has raised tension in the region in the past months by test-firing missiles, restarting a plant to produce arms-grade plutonium and holding the May 25 nuclear test, which put it closer to having a working nuclear bomb.
Two senior diplomats negotiating the U.N. resolution told Reuters on condition of anonymity the Chinese had never really clarified whether they intended to implement the new sanctions resolution.
China's U.N. ambassador, Zhang Yesui, said the resolution showed the "firm opposition" of the international community to North Korea's nuclear ambitions, but he urged countries to exercise caution when inspecting North Korean cargo.
"Under no circumstances should there be use or threat of the use of force," Zhang said.
Studies have shown that U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea for missile testing and its only prior nuclear test in 2006 had almost no impact, while its meager trade actually increased due to lax enforcement of those measures.
"The success of financial sanctions depends heavily on how far China and the United States are willing to go to pressure North Korea," said Jeong Hyung-gon, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
The isolated country's $2 billion annual trade with neighboring China, equal to about 10 percent of the North's annual GDP, is its most important economic relationship. Beijing has wanted to avoid any measures that could cause the North's economy to collapse and lead to chaos on its border.
N.Korea threatens military action, to enrich uranium | International | Reuters