SEOUL: North Korea has warned it will retaliate if the global community ramps up sanctions over its latest round of weapons tests.
The warning comes as President Donald Trump threatened the United States was prepared to go it alone in bringing Pyongyang to heel if China did not step in.
The isolated state has quickened its missile programme in recent months, with a volley of tests it says are putting it closer to acquiring the ability to hit the US mainland with a nuclear weapon.
US-based analysts have said North Korea appears to be preparing a new atomic test. It has staged five nuclear tests so far, two last year.
North Korea’s foreign ministry on Monday assailed Washington for its tough talk and for an ongoing joint military exercise with South Korea and Japan which Pyongyang sees as a dress rehearsal for invasion.
The “reckless actions” are driving the tense situation on the Korean peninsula “to the brink of a war”, a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the official KCNA news agency.
The idea that the US could deprive Pyongyang of its “nuclear deterrent” through sanctions is “the wildest dream”.
“Now that the US fails to face up to the trend of times but incites confrontation to strangle the DPRK (North Korea), the DPRK is left with no option but to take necessary counteraction against it.
“The world will soon witness what eventful steps the DPRK will take to frustrate the hideous and reckless sanctions racket”, he said without elaborating.
North Korea frequently makes unspecific threats in its state media.
The statement comes ahead of a first face-to-face meeting between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping this week at the US president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The comment by the North’s foreign ministry spokesman came hours before the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill relisting the North as a state sponsor of terror, along with a resolution denouncing the North’s nuclear and missile development.
The US Treasury hit 11 North Korean business representatives and an industrial firm with sanctions last week, seeking to further isolate the country’s economy.
Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies said the North is likely to hold off any provocative acts until after the Trump-Xi meeting.
“It is most likely to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the birth of its army on April 25 with either a sixth nuclear test, or the launch of a satellite or an ICBM test”, Yang told Agence France-Presse. AFP