N Korea warned over second test
North Korea has been warned against conducting a second test of a nuclear weapon, as the US said expectations of a new test happening were “reasonable”.
“It would not be a good thing for them, but it certainly would not be out of character,” the White House said.
France said it would demand an even stronger response than the UN sanctions imposed after the first 9 October blast if the North carried out a new test.
North Korea has dubbed those sanctions a declaration of war, state media says.
Pyongyang also warned of “merciless” blows against any country infringing on its sovereignty, the official KCNA news agency reported.
On Monday, US intelligence officials confirmed for the first time that last week’s underground explosion had been nuclear.
There are now reports of new activity at last week’s test site, and South Korea and Japan say they have intelligence of a possible second test being prepared.
According to White House spokesman Tony Snow, North Korea is likely to try to carry out a second blast to test the will of United Nations, the UN Security Council and the countries involved in the six-nation talks.
“The North Koreans have made no secret of their desire to be provocative. The first test, while nuclear, did have a low yield and perhaps it would not be unreasonable to expect that the North Koreans would like to try to something again,” Mr Snow said.
In the past, North Korea is thought to have staged activity at nuclear and missile sites to attract attention and step up diplomatic pressure, the BBC’s Charles Scanlon in Seoul says.
But analysts in Seoul say North Korea will need to conduct further tests in order to develop a credible nuclear deterrent, he adds.
China has appealed to Pyongyang not to escalate tensions, urging its key ally to resolve the issue “through dialogue and consultation”.
A commentary in the overseas edition of the official China People’s Daily said that if North Korea did not stop its actions it could result in not only the implementation of stricter UN sanctions, but that “China is also likely to stop providing petroleum and grain to North Korea”.
France’s foreign ministry spokesman, Jean-Baptiste Mattei, said that although he had no confirmation that North Korea was indeed preparing a second test, Paris was “following very closely”.
“A new test would constitute an exceptional act of irresponsibility… which would demand an adequate response from the international community.”
North Korean reaction
The UN Security Council unanimously voted on Saturday to impose sanctions, targeting Pyongyang’s weapons and missile programmes as well as luxury goods.
In its first official statement since the vote, North Korea’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said it “vehemently denounced” the resolution and called it a “product of US hostile policy” towards the country.
“The resolution cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war” against the North, the statement from the foreign ministry said.
The statement repeated North Korea’s previous claim that it wanted peace and a de-nuclearised Korean peninsula.
But it warned that Pyongyang would deliver “merciless blows without hesitation to whoever tries to breach our sovereignty and right to survive under the excuse of carrying out the UN Security Council resolution”.