North Korea Issues Nuclear Warning After Security Council Condemns Rocket Launch

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By Amrutha Gayathri | January 23, 2013 8:36 PM EST

North Korea has reacted sharply to Tuesday’s U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Pyongyang’s December rocket launch and expanding existing U.N. sanctions.

In a statement early Wednesday, Pyongyang vowed to strengthen its "nuclear deterrent,” saying it would not hold any more talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

"We will take measures to boost and strengthen our defensive military power including nuclear deterrence," Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement published by state news agency KCNA.

"There can be talks for peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region in the future, but no talks for the denuclearization of the peninsula," the statement said.

The unanimous U.N. resolution followed Pyongyang's successful use of a three-stage rocket to launch a satellite into orbit in December.

North Korea has tried five times to launch a satellite since 1998. An attempt to launch the Unha-3 rocket in April, as part of a celebration to mark the 100th birthday of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung, failed after about 100 seconds of powered flight.

The Security Council had condemned the launch, saying it constituted a test of a long-range missile technology that is banned under the U.N.'s resolutions.

Tuesday’s resolution, proposed by the U.S. and backed by North Korea’s closest ally China, represented a compromise between the two nations.

The U.S. had been pushing for new sanctions, but China wanted to pass only a statement. Washington, in its negotiations with Beijing, had to agree that the resolution would not bring in new forms of sanctions on North Korea but would build on the existing ones.

"This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation" of previous resolutions," Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. said, BBC has reported.

South Korea and Japan welcomed the resolution, while Chinese envoy to the U.N. Li Baodong, said Beijing believed "that action taken by the council should be prudent, measured, proportionate and conducive to stability.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Wednesday that “all relevant sides can, with a view to maintaining peace and stability, stay calm and restrained, and avoid all acts that will escalate tension, which is conducive to the interest of all sides,” the Associated Press has reported.

China's agreement to join a resolution is seen as a blow to the North Korean regime, which it supported in the Korean War in the early 1950s against the U.S.-led U.N. troops.

Meanwhile, speculation has been rife that North Korea was inching towards a third nuclear test, as the nation’s previous nuclear tests — in 2006 and 2009 — were carried out within months of long-range rocket launches.

Pyongyang had issued a memorandum Jan. 14 vowing to bolster its defenses as a measure to “actively contribute to peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and in the rest of Asia,” alleging that Washington’s “aggressive” Asia-Pacific strategy led to tensions in the region.

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