US Envoy: North Korea Threat Sounds Like ‘More of the Same’

Posted May 22nd, 2012 at 7:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Glyn Davies, says North Korea's threat to continue developing its nuclear program in view of what it calls U.S. hostility sounds like “more of the same” from Pyongyang.

Davies spoke from Beijing where he met with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei and Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying.

“I am at a bit of a loss to imagine what they're referring to when they talk about 'hostile policies.' I haven't really had a chance to study that North Korean statement that I think was put out by KCNA (North Korean official news agency). I guess I would sum it up by saying it sounds to me like more of the same. I don't know that it adds or detracts from what we already know about the North Korean view about what's happening at the moment. So I guess the bottom line is I don't have a particular reaction to at the moment.”

Analysts say recent satellite imagery shows activity in North Korea's nuclear sites and speculate that Pyongyang may conduct another nuclear test to compensate for a failed rocket launch last month. North Korea's neighbors and the United States believe the launch was a ballistic-missile capability test, but Pyongyang insists the rocket was supposed to launch an observation satellite into orbit.

North Korea said Tuesday it will continue to develop its nuclear program, but that it is not planning a nuclear test. Its statement also said it was preparing unspecified “countermeasures” to respond to the United States, but it did not elaborate.

U.S. envoy Davies said during his visit to Beijing that the United States and China reaffirmed their commitment to prevent North Korea from taking further provocative actions.

“We agree on those fundamentals, and that's what is important, and it's in that context that we talked a little bit about how to strengthen the international approach at the level of the United Nations in New York, and obviously, I raised the issue of sanctions and the importance of reinforcing them, and taking them seriously and staying in very close touch between our governments.”

North Korea was the target of widespread international condemnation following the failed rocket launch last month. The United Nations and a host of Western governments accused Pyongyang of using the satellite launch as a pretext for long-range missile testing prohibited under U.N. sanctions.

Pyongyang's statement follows weeks of Western warnings that suggest the North was preparing its third underground nuclear test since 2006.

On Monday, the Group of Eight world leaders issued a declaration warning of more sanctions if North Korea continues to threaten the stability of the region.

However, Western diplomatic and intelligence sources said late last month that satellite imagery from the suspected launch site did not yet show the presence of equipment necessary to conduct such a test.

Weeks after North Korean launch plans were announced in March, South Korea quoted an unidentified intelligence source as saying the North appeared to be preparing for a new weapons test. The source said satellite imagery showed workers digging what appeared to be a new tunnel at the Punggye-ri site. Pyongyang conducted both previous nuclear tests at that site — the first in 2006 and again in 2009.