SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Tuesday ruled out an imminent nuclear weapon test, but vowed to expand and bolster its nuclear deterrence as well as its sovereign right to launch satellites, while slamming the Group of Eight nations' condemnation of its failed long-range rocket launch in April.
In a remark given to Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry said that the North didn't have a plan for a nuclear test from the beginning, because it sought to launch a scientific and technical satellite.
"From the beginning, we did not envisage such a military measure as a nuclear test as we planned to launch a scientific and technical satellite for peaceful purposes," said the official.
"Several weeks ago, we informed the U.S. side of the fact that we are restraining ourselves in real actions though we are no longer bound to the February 29 DPRK-U.S. agreement, taking the concerns voiced by the U.S. into consideration for the purpose of ensuring the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula necessary for focusing every effort on the peaceful development."
The statement came one day after South Korea, the United States and Japan warned that North Korea will risk facing more sanctions and deepening its isolation if it conducted a nuclear test.
"I think it would be a serious miscalculation and mistake if North Korea worked to engage in a nuclear test," Glyn Davies, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy, said Monday in Seoul after talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.
There has been speculation that the communist country may carry out a nuclear test to try to compensate for last month's botched rocket launch. The long-range rocket, which Pyongyang claimed was meant to put a satellite into orbit, exploded soon after lift-off on April 13. South Korea and the U.S. said it was a cover for testing the North's ballistic missile technology.
The North has a track record of carrying out a nuclear test following a long-range missile test. In 2006, the North conducted its first nuclear test, three months after the test-firing of its long-range Taepodong-2 rocket. The second nuclear test in 2009 came just one month after a long-range rocket launch.
The North Korean official went on to strongly hit back at a statement issued at a G8 summit in the U.S. last week, in which the global leaders warned that the North will face stronger punishment in case of further provocations that threaten regional stability. The G8 leaders also urged the North to comply with its international obligations and abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.
The North's official then threatened to expand and bolster its nuclear deterrent, continue legitimately exercising its sovereign right to launch satellites to build an economic power and take other countermeasures for self-defense.
"Absolutely intolerable is G8's reckless political provocation to violate the sacred sovereignty of the DPRK (North Korea) steeped in the bad habit of supporting the U.S. hostile policy towards the DPRK in disregard of justice and truth. We will bravely frustrate all the obstructions of the hostile forces and continue legitimately exercising our sovereign right to launch satellites to meet the indispensable requirements for building an economic power," said the official.
"We had access to nuclear deterrence for self-defense because of the hostile policy of the U.S. to stifle the DPRK by force and we will expand and bolster it nonstop as long as this hostile policy goes on. If the U.S. persists in its moves to ratchet up sanctions and pressure upon us despite our peace-loving efforts, we will be left with no option but to take counter-measures for self-defense."
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