North Korea cites "tragedy" of countries that give up nuclear programs

Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:41am EST
 

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has bolstered its defenses against a "hostile" United States with its third nuclear test, it said on Thursday, noting that countries that had bowed to U.S. pressure to abandon their nuclear plans had suffered "tragic consequences".

The North carried out its largest nuclear test to date last week, in defiance of U.N. resolutions, prompting warnings of tougher sanctions for the isolated and impoverished state and its young ruler, Kim Jong-un.

Libya abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 in a bid to mend relations with the United States and later saw leader Muammar Gaddafi overthrown in an uprising that was eventually supported militarily by Washington.

In apparent reference to Libya, North Korea said it never backed down.

"The tragic consequences in those countries which abandoned halfway their nuclear programs... clearly prove that the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) was very far-sighted and just when it made the (nuclear) option," North Korea's KCNA news agency said.

North Korea has told China, its sole major ally, that it plans to stage more nuclear tests, according to a source with close connections to the top leadership in both countries.

It staged the latest test in response to tighter U.N. sanctions imposed in January after the country launched a long-range rocket last year in a move that critics said was designed to prove technology for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea has recently stepped up its rhetoric against South Korea, threatening to destroy its rich, democratic neighbor.

Most military assessments suggest that North Korea would lose any war against the U.S.-backed South and that its leaders would not risk a major conflict.

In 2010, North Korea was blamed for sinking a South Korean naval vessel and in the same year it shelled a South Korean island, killing four people, including two civilians.

(Reporting by David Chance; Editing by Nick Macfie)

 
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (4th R) and officials attend a wreath laying ceremony in front of a statue of North's founder Kim Il-Sung and his son and late leader Kim Jong-Il at the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang on the occasion of birth anniversary of the late leader Kim Jong-Il, which falls on Saturday, in this undated recent picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency on February 16, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA