NKorea warns of “tougher” action after new US sanctions

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North Korea resented on Friday Biden administration to impose new sanctions on the country over its recent missile tests and warn of stronger and more explicit measures if Washington maintains its “confrontational stance”.

In a statement issued by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman defended the recent northern launches of alleged hypersonic missiles as a fair exercise in self-defense.

A spokesman said the new sanctions underscore the US’s hostile intention to “isolate and stifle” the North, despite repeated calls from Washington for Pyongyang to continue diplomacy stalled over disagreements over sanctions relief and steps to nuclear disarmament.

The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five North Koreans for their role in acquiring equipment and technology for northern missile programs in its response to the latest northern missile test this week, and also said it would seek new UN sanctions.

The Treasury Department released just hours after North Korea told the leader Kim Jong Un he oversaw a successful hypersonic missile test on Tuesday, which he claimed would greatly increase nuclear “war deterrence”.

A North Korean spokesman accused the U.S. of maintaining a “gangster” stance, saying North Korea’s development of a new missile was part of its efforts to modernize its military and not target any particular country or threaten the security of its neighbors. .

“Nevertheless, the United States is deliberately escalating the situation by activating independent sanctions, rather than contenting itself with mediating fair DPRK action to the UN Security Council,” said a spokesman for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic. Korea.

“This shows that although the current US administration is blabbering on about diplomacy and dialogue, it is still immersed in its policy of isolating and stifling the DPRK … If the US adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to take a stronger and definite reaction.” said a spokesman.

Tuesday’s test was North Korea’s second demonstration of its alleged hypersonic missile in a week. The country has stepped up tests of new, potentially nuclear-capable missiles aimed at flooding the region’s missile defense systems in recent months, while continuing to expand its military capabilities amid a freeze on diplomacy with the United States.

Hypersonic weapons flying at speeds in excess of 5 Mach or five times the speed of sound could pose a key challenge to missile defense systems due to their speed and maneuverability.

Such weapons were on the wish list of sophisticated military assets that Kim unveiled early last year, along with multicolor missiles, spy satellites, long-range solid-fuel missiles and submarine-launched nuclear missiles.

Nevertheless, experts say North Korea would need years and more successful and lengthy tests before acquiring a credible hypersonic system.

The Biden administration, whose policies reflected a broader shift in U.S. focus from the fight against terrorism and so-called rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, to confronting China, said it was ready to resume talks with North Korea at any time without preconditions.

But North Korea has so far rejected the idea of ​​open talks, saying the U.S. must first withdraw its “hostile policy,” a term Pyongyang mostly uses to describe U.S.-South Korean sanctions and joint military exercises.

In an interview with MSNBC, Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the latest Nordic tests as “deeply destabilizing” and said the United States is heavily involved in the response to the UN and key partners, including allies South Korea and Japan.

“I think some of this is trying to get North Korea’s attention. It’s been done in the past. It probably will continue to be so,” Blinken said. “However, we are very focused on allies and partners to ensure that they and we are adequately protected and that there are consequences and consequences for these North Korean actions.”

The Foreign Ministry said Biden’s Special Representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, had separate calls with South Korean and Japanese nuclear envoys to discuss trilateral cooperation following North Korea’s recent launches, and reiterated Washington’s “iron” commitment to defend their allies.

A U.S.-led diplomatic effort to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program failed in 2019 after the Trump administration rejected North’s demands for greater sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

Kim Jong Un has since pledged to further expand his nuclear arsenal, which he clearly sees as his strongest guarantee of survival, despite the country’s economy suffering severe pandemics due to pandemic-related border closures and persistent sanctions. problems.

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