North Korea has attempted to pour cold water on speculation that it is planning another atomic weapons test. But uncertainty over "mixed messages" from the new Pyongyang regime remains.
North Korea said on Saturday that it has no current plans to carry out a nuclear test, despite what it referred to as South Korean provocation.
"Through those provocations the group (government) 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," a statement from an unnamed spokesman from the country's foreign ministry read.
The statement also claimed that South Korea's government, currently presided over by Lee Myung-bak, has deliberately attempted to spark a border incident akin to the North's shelling attack on a South Korean island in November 2010.
It said the plan was with a view to exaggerating Pyongyang's "belligerent nature" in a bid to "create an atmosphere of putting pressure and sanctions on it."
There has been continuous speculation about whether North Korea will undertake its third atomic weapons test since the country carried out a failed rocket launch in April, which the UN Security Council responded to with condemnation and by tightening sanctions.
Pyongyang also carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 in response to sanctions that the UN imposed over its rocket launches.
There has been endless debate and speculation about the posturing of the new North Korean regime, led by Kim Jong-Un since the country's longstanding leader, Kim Jong-Il, died last December.
The North appeared ready to make concessions in February when it said it would freeze its uranium enrichment program and its nuclear and missile tests in exchange for US food aid. On April 13, the agreement was thrown into turmoil when North Korea launched a long-range rocket. It defended its actions as an attempt to orbit a satellite, but the US responded by halting the first food aid deliveries. The UN also condemned the actions as a breach of its ban on ballistic missile technology testing.
sej/rc (AP, AFP)