North Korea has announced plans to conduct a nuclear test, in defiance of international efforts to end its nuclear weapons programs.
A North Korean television announcer says Pyongyang will "conduct a nuclear test in a condition where safety is firmly guaranteed." He does not specify when.
The North blames what it calls the "U.S. extreme threat of a nuclear war and sanctions" for its decision. Washington says it has no intention of attacking Pyongyang, and has worked for three years with China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan to persuade the North to end its nuclear programs, the Voice of America reports.
Taro Aso, the Japanese foreign minister, strongly condemned the announcement, saying it would be "totally unforgivable" for North Korea to go through with its plan.
It is the first time the North Korea has publicly announced its intention to conduct a nuclear test, though it has long claimed to have nuclear weapons, telegraph.co.uk says.
Analysts say North Korea probably has enough fissile material to make 6 to 8 nuclear bombs but probably does not have the technology to make one small enough to mount on a missile.
Officials in North Korea's two other major neighbors — China and South Korea — gave no immediate reaction to the report.
All are members of six-nation talks trying to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. The other two countries are Russia and the United States, Reuters reports.
Multilateral talks on the North's nuclear program have been stalled for almost a year. Pyongyang has boycotted the six-nation talks to protest U.S. financial restrictions imposed for its alleged illegal activity, including money laundering and counterfeiting.
The North said Tuesday that its ultimate goal is "to settle hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S. and to remove the very source of all nuclear threats from the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity," accusing the U.S. of posing a nuclear threat in the region, the AP reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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