N Korea threatens to conduct nuclear tests

NORTH KOREA threatened to conduct nuclear and missile tests unless the UN apologises for criticising its April 5 rocket launch, dramatically raising its stake in the worsening standoff over its atomic programmes.

Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said in a statement the country “will be compelled to take additional self-defensive measures” unless the UN Security Council apologises immediately. “The measures will include nuclear tests and test-firings of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

The North’s ministry also said the country would build a light-water nuclear reactor and start developing technologies to produce nuclear fuel, a threat that experts said indicated the country would start enriching uranium which can be used in the production of a nuclear bomb.

The current nuclear standoff flared in late 2002 after Washington alleged Pyongyang had a clandestine nuclear programme based on enriched uranium in addition to a separate one based on plutonium. The North has strongly denied the allegations.

Pyongyang conducted its first atomic test blast in 2006 and is thought to have enough plutonium to make at least half a dozen nuclear bombs. But the country is not believed to have mastered the technology to make a nuclear warhead small enough to put on a missile.


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