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North Korea threatens 'new form' of nuclear test, slams United Nations

North Korea has defended its recent rocket drills and says it might carry out other types of nuclear tests. Its remarks come in response to UN condemnation of Pyongyang's latest missile launch.

North Korea responded on Sunday to UN criticism of its latest mid-range missile launch by saying it might conduct new tests to diversify its nuclear defense.

"(We) will not rule out a new form of a nuclear test aimed at strengthening our nuclear deterrence," the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency.

The statement also described as unacceptable Friday's UN Security Council condemnation of Pyongyang's recent missile test, saying the launch was a "self-defensive" act in protest against joint South Korean-US military drills that are currently being held.

"It is highly intolerable that the UNSC condemns our self-defensive rocket tests... while turning a blind eye to the US madcap nuclear war practice that triggered our act," the statement said. "War practice" is the name the North regularly uses to describe the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises between Washington and Seoul.

'Unimaginable steps'

The statement also said North Korean military drills to counter the US will involve "more diversified nuclear deterrence" that will be used for hitting medium- and long-range targets "with a variety of striking power."

"If a catastrophic development which no one wants occurs on the peninsula, the US will be wholly responsible for it," it said, threatening "various steps that the enemy can hardly imagine."

Pyongyang has stepped up military provocations in recent weeks in protest at the drills.

On Wednesday, it fired two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, provoking the UN condemnation. It was the first time in four years that North Korea had launched mid-range missiles capable of reaching Japan, although it has conducted a series of short-range rocket launches over the past two months.

Impoverished North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February 2013 in defiance of UN resolutions, and said it had made progress in securing a functioning atomic arsenal.

tj/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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