North Korea foreign minister defends nuclear test at summit

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (UPI) — North Korea‘s foreign minister said his country is prepared to respond to military provocations from the United States.

Ri Yong Ho, who is in Venezuela for the 17th Non-Aligned Movement Summit, made the statement on Thursday while condemning the U.S. deployment of two B-1 supersonic bombers over South Korean airspace, Voice of America reported.

Ri also defended Pyongyang’s widely condemned fifth nuclear test as a necessary measure to counter U.S. military activities on the Korean peninsula.

Ri’s statement was delivered the same day North Korea’s National Peace Committee issued a denouncement of South Korea’s plan to deploy U.S. missile defense system THAAD.

“The Park Geun-hye puppet regime will not face a different fate by dragging THAAD to South Korea, while desperately clinging to the United States, whose fate is approaching the terminus of destruction,” the committee’s statement read.

Kim Jin-mu of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul said Ri’s speech at the summit in Venezuela is part of a strategy to portray the United States as a military threat, and a suggestion that more nuclear tests are being planned in addition to test-firings of intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs.

North Korea is moving swiftly in weapons development.

A source in North Korea told Radio Free Asia that Pyongyang has launched a five-year plan to modernize the military.

The plan includes fully retaining air, maritime and land-based nuclear strike capability, and a second source based in North Hamgyong Province said the state is planning to focus on the miniaturization of nuclear warheads and the construction of nuclear submarines.

North Korea has completed work on small nuclear power reactors that were built with some support from the former Soviet Union, the source added.

Ri is expected to attend the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24.

The Non-Aligned Movement includes 120 member states and 17 observer countries.

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