Tensions have flared up on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea issued its latest nuclear threat two days after Seoul said Pyongyang was making final preparations to conduct its fourth nuclear test.
North Korea has “clarified its resolute stand that it would take countermeasures including nuclear test to protect the sovereignty and dignity of the” country, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday, citing the ruling party’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
The threat comes just two days after South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said North Korea was making final preparations to conduct its fourth nuclear test.
The defense minister also noted that South Korean and US forces had stepped up surveillance status across the troubled region to prepare for contingencies.
Seoul has warned that Pyongyang would face serious consequences if it conducts another nuclear test.
North Korea staged three nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009 and 2013, at the Punggye-ri site.
Tensions between the two Koreas have erupted in recent months following Pyongyang’s missile tests in March.
Pyongyang fired short-range missiles in a show of force against the ongoing military drills between Seoul and Washington.
Last year’s drills fuelled tensions, with Pyongyang threatening a pre-emptive nuclear strike and US stealth bombers flying over the peninsula.
Senior North Korean officials have often accused Washington of plotting with regional allies to topple the country’s government.
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