North Korea has said its nuclear program is a defense against US "blackmail" as world powers debate ways to punish the isolated country for its fifth atomic test. Russia has called for the resumption of six-party talks.
North Korea's fifth and most powerful nuclear test on Friday has drawn global condemnation, with South Korea calling for tougher new sanctions against the communist state. But Pyongyang remains defiant as ever, calling its nuclear weapons program a defense against US "blackmail."
"Gone are the days when the US could make a unilateral nuclear blackmail against the DPRK," Pyongyang's top newspaper "Rodong Sinmun," commented, using the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The US is exasperated by the strong military steps being taken by the DPRK in a phased way," it added.
The communist country's state media also claimed that with the nuclear test North Korea had realized its goal of being able to fit a miniaturized warhead on a rocket.
"Our nuclear scientists staged a nuclear explosion test on a newly developed nuclear warhead at the country's northern nuclear test site," a TV presenter said.
The North's nuclear program has been accompanied by a series of ballistic missile launches.
Sanctions 'not working'
South Korea said the nuclear threat from its neighbor was growing fast as it called for tougher sanctions from the UN Security Council against the North.
"It is believed that the North's nuclear capability is becoming more advanced to a considerable level, and at a faster pace," South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se said.
The UN Security Council held a closed-door meeting on Friday, strongly condemning the test and agreeing to put new sanctions in place.
"The members of the Security Council will begin to work immediately on appropriate measures under Article 41 in a Security Council resolution," New Zealand's ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, who hold the council's rotating presidency, told media.
But some experts say the UN sanctions are not working on North Korea.
"We see very clearly that the international efforts to dissuade the North from developing nuclear weapons have been a colossal failure. This has happened despite the ever-tightening diplomatic and economic sanctions, which have affected the North's entire foreign trade, including its commerce with China," East Asia expert Rüdiger Frank told DW.
"Still, North Korea has continued to press ahead. In this context, one can only conclude that there needs to be a change in the current strategy towards North Korea which has obviously failed," Frank added.
Calls for restraint and resumption of talks
In Seoul, dozens of protesters burned an effigy of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-UN and called for pre-emptive strikes on the North's nuclear facilities.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said late Friday that Kim was "mentally out of control," and added: "The patience of international community has come to the limit."
But Russia has called for restraint from all sides. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov acknowledged that the UN sanctions alone would not resolve the crisis. Lavrov said international and regional powers needed to restart negotiations with the North Korean leadership.
"It is too early to bury the six-party talks. We should look for ways that would allow us to resume them," he said.
In 2009, Pyongyang pulled out of six-party talks, which involved North Korea, South Korea, US, Japan, China and Russia.
shs/jm (AFP, Reuters)