North Korea denies planning third nuclear test

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA (BNO NEWS) — The North Korean government has no plans at present to carry out a third nuclear test, calling allegations of preparations for such a test a South Korean provocation to weaken the North’s relations with other countries, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Saturday.

A spokesman for the North’s Foreign Ministry accused the South of defaming celebrations to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung and other recent festivities. “The Korean Peninsula has turned into a theater of military standoff among big powers and a fuse for a regional war due to the Lee group’s policy of confrontation and sycophantic mendicant diplomacy,” he said, referring to the government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

In early April, a report from South Korean intelligence officials claimed the North Korean government is likely preparing to carry out a nuclear test at Punggye-ri near the county of Kilju in North Hamgyong province, the site of the country’s plutonium-fueled nuke tests in October 2006 and May 2009.

“Through those provocations the group (South Korea) seeks to rattle the nerves of the DPRK (North Korea) in a bid to cause it to conduct a nuclear test, though such a thing is not under plan at present,” the foreign ministry spokesman said. “This scenario is aimed to strain the relations between the DPRK and the countries around it and create an atmosphere of putting pressure and sanctions on it.”

The spokesman also called on the South Korean government to step down, claiming it is in the interest of all countries aspiring after peace and stability on the peninsula. “It is the disgrace of the Korean nation and tragedy of the present times that such group of traitors exists,” he said.

North Korea had previously kept quiet on the allegations it was preparing for a nuclear test, but a statement released by the country’s military leadership in late April threatened to launch a ‘nationwide sacred war’ to wipe out the South. North Korea has repeatedly threatened to launch attacks against the South in recent years, but the announcement in April was made far more prominently than previous threats.

Flashing banners on the website of the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) have since the announcement in April also called for a war to destroy the South. “Let us shower the Lee Myung Bak-led swarm of rats with a fire of retaliation,” the banner says. “Let us blow up the bases used to hurt the dignity of our Supreme Leadership! Let us wipe out the Lee Myung Bank-led swarm of rats in this land and sky!”

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which remains in a technical state of war, have been at critical since the 2010 sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 people. The incident left 46 people killed and a South Korean-led international investigation blamed a North Korean torpedo which was allegedly fired from a midget submarine, although the North insists it was not responsible.

Months after the sinking of the ship, North Korean forces bombarded the disputed Yeonpyeong Island. The artillery engagement from the North, which claims it acted in ‘self-defense’, left two South Korean civilians dead while the South’s return fire killed at least five people in North Korea.

In April, North Korea attempted to launch the Kwangmyongsong-3 (Bright Star-3) weather satellite on a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile to mark Kim Il-sung’s birth anniversary, but the missile failed about a minute after takeoff and crashed in the Yellow Sea. The international community strongly condemned the attempt.

The 1950-1953 Korean War, which left millions of people killed, ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

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