VIENTIANE, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 25th july, 2016) : North Korea said any decision to conduct another nuclear test depends entirely on the behaviour of the United States as the two sides traded blame Tuesday over tensions on the Korean peninsula. Ri Yong-Ho, Pyongyang's newly appointed foreign minister, accused the US of being behind the failure of the long-dormant six-party talks on the country's nuclear programme. His comments came after top Washington envoy John Kerry warned the North of "real consequences" if it continues nuclear and missile tests in defiance of UN sanctions, as the international community attempts to rein in the rogue nation.
"Whether we conduct additional nuclear tests is entirely up to the United States," Ri told reporters late Tuesday on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Laos which both he and Kerry attended. "The denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula went out of the window because of the United States," Ri said. The hermit state carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a series of ballistic missile launches that sent tensions soaring across East Asia and beyond.
In response the UN Security Council slapped North Korea with its toughest sanctions to date in a unanimous decision even endorsed by China, its economic lifeline and diplomatic shield. "The key factor damaging the situation is the United States' hostile policies... and the problem is getting worse," Ri said, citing the ramped up economic sanctions. Despite the latest attempt by the international community to push it towards bankruptcy, North Korea has continued to carry out ballistic missile tests, and made it clear that it intends to continue nuclear testing.
With the tensions dominating talks in the Laos capital Vientiane, Kerry issued a stern warning to the North. "Together we are determined... to make absolutely certain that DPRK (North Korea) understands that there are real consequences for these actions," Kerry said. Analysts say this year's tests have shown the North making progress towards its goal of developing a credible strike threat against the US mainland, adding urgency to Washington's warnings. Ri, a former nuclear negotiator, was making his overseas debut as North Korea's top diplomat at the gathering hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The meeting was a rare opportunity for the six parties involved in talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear programme -- the US, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas -- to be in the same room.