A top North Korean official says his country has no choice but to conduct more nuclear tests and missile launches as long as the United States continues its hostile policy towards Pyongyang.
Han Song Ryol, the director-general of the department of US affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, made the remarks in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday.
Han called on Washington to stop its military threats, sanctions and economic pressure against North Korea, saying, “Without doing so, it’s like they are telling us to reconcile while they are putting a gun to our forehead.”
Until there is a change in the US stance on North Korea, “clouds of nuclear war” persist on the Korean Peninsula, he warned.
Elsewhere in his comments, Han accused the US of deploying nuclear-powered submarines and bombers capable of dropping nuclear weapons on North Korea to the region.
During joint drills with the South Korean military, the US also conducted training for precision airstrikes on North Korea’s leadership along with simulations of an advance into Pyongyang, he added.
“This launch was a significant and novel step that my country must take to produce a powerful nuclear deterrent,” Han said, adding, “The real provocation is coming from the United States. … How can my country stand by and do nothing?”
The official also defended North Korea’s latest test-launching of two medium-range ballistic missiles, saying they indicated technological advances in his country’s missile capabilities.
Pyongyang declared itself a nuclear power in 2005 and carried out four nuclear weapons tests in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016.
North Korea also launched a long-range rocket in February, which according to Pyongyang was aimed at placing an earth observation satellite into orbit. However, Washington and Seoul described the practice as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.
North Korea has pledged to develop a nuclear arsenal in a bid to protect itself from the US military, which occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.
Washington also holds joint military maneuvers with Seoul, which Pyongyang views as preparations for war and a direct threat against its security.