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Pyongyang threatens counteraction

Apr 05,2017
In response to Washington’s latest sanctions, North Korea said Monday through its state-run media that the world will “soon witness what eventful steps the DPRK will take to frustrate the hideous and reckless” measures, possibly hinting at another military provocation.

A man introduced as a spokesman for the North’s Foreign Ministry appeared on the Korean Central News Agency, telling a reporter that the sanctions “only harden the retaliatory will of the army and people of the DPRK to settle accounts with the United States,” using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The DPRK is left with no other option but to take necessary counteraction against it,” the spokesman added.

He added that only in its “wildest dreams” will the United States end Pyongyang’s nuclear program by using sanctions.

The threat came three days after the U.S. Treasury Department announced it would blacklist a North Korean trading firm and 11 North Korean individuals who are “working as agents of the [North Korean] regime in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cuba to provide financial support or weapons of mass destruction procurement services for UN or U.S. designated sanctioned entities.”

As of last Friday, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. citizens or within the United States must be blocked, the department said, and Americans are prohibited from dealing with any of the designated parties.

It is unclear whether North Korea’s latest threat, delivered through its characteristically bombastic state media, was a message that it would soon carry out its sixth nuclear experiment or fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which local authorities say could come any time soon.

Before its first three nuclear tests, the North explicitly forewarned of a test. But it did not do so ahead of its fourth or fifth.

In a New Year’s address on Jan. 1, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country was in its “final stage” of preparing to test-fire an ICBM, the first of its kind.

Thae Yong-ho, who served as North Korea’s deputy ambassador to London before he defected to the South last summer, said in a recent interview with NBC News, published Monday, that once Kim sees that there is “any kind of sign of a tank or an imminent threat” from the United States, he would “use his nuclear weapons with ICBMs.”

Meanwhile, 38 North, a website that analyzes North Korean affairs, wrote Monday that Pyongyang’s failed missile test on March 22 could have taken place when the missile was being transported to a nearby processing builder or when it was being raised for launch.

Local military authorities admitted the test failed but have yet to explain why, citing a need for further analysis.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]