The last time North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test was last year in September. That was their fifth test.
Now, there’s a possibility that they’ll try for a sixth time. They launched a missile on Sunday, which ended in failure as it exploded seconds after it launched.
North Korea has made clear that they intend to continue their public missile demonstrations on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
The U.S. and its allies are concerned that such tests could lead to another nuclear weapon test. U.S. officials warn that if they test a nuke, there are going to be consequences.
In a conference call with reporters, State Department Acting Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton said the US would not “stand idly by” while North Korea “develops and hones” nuclear weapons.
In response to a question about what the US would do in response to a sixth nuclear test, Thornton said that “some kind of major provocation like that would draw pretty significant international response.”
“We’re definitely not seeking conflict or regime change but we are committed to defending our people and our allies should it be necessary,” Thornton said.
In the past, the US has responded to North Korea’s nuclear tests by increasing sanctions, which Thornton said the US is also considering.
“There is a feeling that this is a very urgent — not just regional, but global — threat at this point,” Thornton said. “So I think that when you hear discussion of wanting to evaluate this issue on the priorities list … that reflects the urgency” of the threat.
North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol issued a warning of his own: “If the US is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method.”
He added: “If the US is reckless enough to use military means it would mean from that very day, an all-out war.”
North Korea’s UN ambassador Kim In-ryong condemned the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airbase, stating that the U.S. is “disturbing global peace and stability and insisting on the gangster-like logic that its invasion of a sovereign state is decisive and just and proportionate and contributes to defending the international order.”
North Korea defends their own possession of nuclear weapons by saying that they ‘protect’ the country from the aggression of the United States.
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