The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear country, and repeated its call to Pyongyang to avoid irresponsible provocation that would escalate tensions in the region.
U.S. Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the statement in response to North Korea’s threat that it is ready to use its nuclear weapons against the United States and other enemies if they pursue “reckless hostile policy” toward Kim Jong-un’s government.
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North Korea also announced that its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon is normally operating, and it is working to improve the quality and quantity of its nuclear weapons.
The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center is located 90 kilometers north of Pyongyang. It has a uranium enrichment plant and a plutonium production reactor. In February 2007, North Korea agreed to shut down its reactor during the Six-Party Talks in exchange for emergency energy assistance. Pyongyang destroyed the cooling tower at its main atomic reactor in the complex in 2008.
In 2013, North Korea announced its decision to restart the operation of its nuclear complex after declaring a “state of war” with South Korea.
North Korea should fulfill its international commitments
According to U.S. Press Secretary Earnest, Washington is aware of reports indicating that North Korea readjusted the operations of nuclear facilities at Yongbyon including the 5-megawatt plutonium and the uranium enrichment facility.
The U.S. Press Secretary reiterated Washington’s request to North Korea to “refrain from irresponsible provocations that aggravate regional tensions.” Mr. Earnest also emphasized that Kim Jing-un’s regime “should focus instead on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments.”
He also pointed out the position of the United States and other countries around the world including the significant players in the region that they “will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state.”
Mr. Earnerst said the position of the international community is the reason the United States is urging North Korea ti refrain from actions and rhetoric that threaten regional peace and security.
Reaction from South Korea
Jeong Joon-hee, a spokesman for the Unification Ministry of South Korea, said, “If [North Korea] launches a rocket or conducts a nuclear test, it will be a grave provocation and military threat. Also, it is an act that squarely violates the resolution of the U.N. Security Council.”
In August, South Korea reached an agreement with North Korea to end the military standoff and made a commitment to continue negotiations to improve diplomatic relations.
Ahn Chan-il, an analyst at the World Institute for North Korea Studies said the South Korea government should must continuously send warnings to North Korea by considering [the threats] as abnormal situation, because there are promises made between two Koreas on family reunions and high-level talks.”
China aims to revive Six-Party talks
He added that Washington would work with its partners in the Six-Party talks to convince North Korea to return to the negotiating table and fulfill its previous commitments.
The Six-Party Talks include China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States. The negotiations stalled since 2008 due to a disagreement on verification systems on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
China aims to revive the Six-Party talks. The Chinese government is supporting a think-tank, which will be hosting a forum with officials from the six countries involved in the negotiations to denuclearize North Korea.
The Chinese government urged Pyongyang to comply with the United Nations resolutions prohibiting it from developing ballistic missile and nuclear weapons. China’s Foreign Ministry expressed its commitment to help maintain the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and called for negotiations.
In July, the North Korean government already stated its position that it was not interested to enter into an agreement similar to the Iran-nuclear deal. Pyongyang also ruled out the possibility of negotiations over denuclearization.
North Korea nuclear threats: a familiar strategy
Some political analysts commented that North Korea’s latest nuclear threats sound familiar because it has an established a pattern of pressuring the United States and its allies to be able to demand aid.
Andrei Lankov, professor of Korean Studies at Kookmin University in Seoul said North Korea’s strategy is to create a situation that looks tensed as possible—that is the first stage.
He noted that Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong II used missile launches, nuclear weapons, and conventional military provocations to create an international crisis during the 1990s and 2000s.
Lankov said, “Once the situation looks very tense, and the world media begins to talk about the Korean Peninsula being on the brink of war, North Korea then agrees to negotiate and agrees to drive tensions down in exchange for some concessions.”
The recent provocations of North Korea ignited speculations that it would launch a long-range missile in early Octobers during the 70th anniversary of the country’s ruling party.