In a statement Thursday, the North’s foreign ministry said Pyongyang will be “unable to refrain any longer” from conducting a fourth nuclear test after the United Nations moved to bring the country before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity earlier this week.
On Thursday China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson urged all parties to return to dialogue and the six party talks.
Hong Lei said differences on human rights issues should be resolved by all countries via dialogue. He said China’s position is to maintain stability on the peninsula and resolve issues through dialogue.
South Korea condemns threat
South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il condemned the North Korean threat.
“If North Korea aggravates the situation with nuclear threats towards the international community, it will be considered a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolution. We warn North Korea that it will face a firm response,” Noh said.
China voted against the resolution and will likely veto any action to refer North Korea to the ICC. China, a longtime ally of North Korea, returns North Korean refugees who are caught fleeing across their shared border.
Many of these refugees said they are fleeing what the U.N. described in a report earlier this year as “unspeakable atrocities.”
The U.N. has detailed the use of labor camps, torture, rape and abductions by the North Korean government.
North Korea has called these allegations a “political provocation” and said the U.N. resolution was based on “fabricated testimonies” from North Korean defectors.
Thursday, North Korea released a statement on government run television.
The North Korean news reader said hostile U.S. policy toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea compels North Korea to not refrain any longer from conducting a new nuclear test.
The reader said the principal architect of the U.N. resolution and their colleagues will be held wholly responsible for all the consequences of the resolution’s adoption.
Evidence of possible test
Several American research institutes cite evidence that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test.
In a report Wednesday, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said the North appears to be restarting a facility for processing weapons-grade plutonium. The report relied on satellite photos that show steam coming from the Yongbyon plant.
The U.S.-Korea Institute also reported other evidence, including truck activity, near the reactor site.
The Institute for Science and International Security has said satellite imagery shows a reactor shutdown.
The U.N. committee resolution must now be approved by the wider General Assembly. It could then head to the Security Council, where China and Russia hold crucial veto votes.
The two countries have in the past protected the North at the Security Council.
North Korea conducted nuclear bomb tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. The country last reprocessed spent fuel in 2009 before conducting its second nuclear test.