Snow-covered nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, North Korea. (Yonhap News)
북한은 24일 성명을 통해 유엔의 제재안에 대한 강렬한 비판을 내비치며 미국을 겨냥한 미래 미사일 발사와 핵실험을 강행하겠다고 밝혔다.
북한은 이날 국방위원회 명의로 낸 성명에서 “우리가 계속 발사하게 될 여러 가지 위성과 장거리 로켓도 우리가 진행할 높은 수준의 핵실험도 미국을 겨냥하게 된다는 것을 숨기지 않는다”고 밝혔다.
이는 유엔안보리이사회에서 12월 강행한 장거리 미사일 발사에 대해 만장일치로 제재안안을 통과한지 이틀 만에 발표한 성명이다.
앞서 북한은 유엔 안전보장이사회가 23일 기존의 대북제재를 강화하는 결의를 채택하자 같은 날 외무성 성명을 통해 “미국의 제재압박책동에 대처해 핵 억제력을 포함한 자위적인 군사력을 질량적으로 확대강화하는 임의의 물리적 대응조치들을 취하게 될 것”이라며 3차 핵실험 가능성을 시사했다.
북한은 유엔 제재안을 합법적이지 못하고 부정한 것이라고 비판했다.
북한 국방위는 또 “세계의 공정한 질서를 세우는 데 앞장에 서야 할 큰 나라들까지 제정신을 차리지 못하고 미국의 전횡과 강권에 눌리워 지켜야 할 초보적인 원칙도 서슴없이 줴버렸다(버렸다)”고 언급, 중국의 안보리 결의 찬성에 대한 서운함을 에둘러 표현했다.
우리 정부 국방부는 24일 북한이 3차 핵실험 가능성을 시사한 것과 관련 “북한은 지도부의 결심만 있다면 언제든지 핵실험을 할 수 있다고 보고 있다”고 밝혔다.
외교통상부 조태영 대변인은 24일 정례브리핑에서 “북한의 성명에 대해 대단히 유감스럽게 생각한다”면서 정부가 북한이 핵실험을 포함한 추가 도발을 감행하지 말 것을 촉구했다. 조 대변인은 또한 정부가 북한의 핵실험 관련 동향에 대해 아주 면밀하게 주시하고 있다고 덧붙였다.
한편 북한의 시진핑 공산당 총서기는 전날 박근혜 대통령 당선인 특사단의 예방을 받은 자리에서 6자회담의 재개를 촉구했다고 인민일보가 24일 보도했다.
시 총서기는 “중국은 대화와 협상을 통해 당사국들의 관심사가 균형 있게 해결되고 (한)반도 비핵화와 장기적 안정이 실현되어야 한다고 주장한다”고 밝혔다.
<관련 한글 기사>N.K. threatens ‘high-level’ nuclear test targeting U.S.
By Shin Hyon-hee
North Korea threatened to conduct a nuclear test and missile firings aimed at the U.S. on Thursday one day after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution condemning its December rocket launch.
South Korea expressed deep regret, calling on the North to refrain from further provocations.
“In the new phase of our century-long anti-U.S. struggle, we do not hide that various satellites, long-range rockets that we will continue to launch and high-level nuclear test we will conduct will target our sworn enemy, the United States,” the North’s National Defense Commission said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
On Tuesday, the 15-country U.N. council approved a fresh resolution and expanded its sanctions against the communist state. An enraged Pyongyang immediately vowed to end denuclearization efforts and bolster its “nuclear deterrence.”
Glyn Davies, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, warned against further provocations and urged diplomatic resolution, saying that another weapons test will be a “mistake and missed opportunity.”
He said the U.S. is “still open to authentic and credible negotiations to implement the Sept. 19, 2005 joint statement” on denuclearization on the peninsula, which the North declared null on Wednesday.
“We’re willing to extend our hand if Pyongyang chooses the path of peace and progress by letting go of its nuclear programs and multi-stage missiles,” he told reporters in Seoul.
Davies also stressed the need to defusing cross-border tension as a must for a better relationship between Pyongyang and Washington.
“(It’s) very important that North-South relations improve and that’s very much up to Pyongyang to accept the overtures that it receives, not to further provoke South Korea,” he added.
“Without sustained improvement in inter-Korean relations, US-DPRK ties cannot fundamentally improve; this is why talks in Seoul are important.”
Davies arrived here on Wednesday to coordinate the next steps to the Security Council decision for two days. He met with his South Korean counterpart Lim Sung-nam, Unification Minister Yoo Woo-ik, presidential national security secretary Chun Yung-woo and members of President-elect Park Geun-hye’s transition team including Yun Byung-se.
He was accompanied by Clifford Hart, special envoy for the six-party denuclearization talks, and Sydney Seiler, Korea director on the White House’s National Security Council.
A series of signs and analyses also point to an imminent third nuclear test.
South Korean intelligence sees the North as technically ready to detonate another fission bomb at its Punggye-ri test site with a tunnel and related equipment already installed.
Seoul’s Defense Ministry said earlier in the day that North Korea is “capable of testing its atomic weapons if the leadership decides to do so.”
After analyzing satellite images, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on Dec. 27 that the regime has repaired flood damage at its test site and may be able to trigger a detonation in as little as two weeks.
“Pyongyang is determined to maintain a state of readiness at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site where a third test is expected even in the dead of winter.” the 38 North think tank said on its blog.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young declined to touch on intelligence matters but said the government is closely watching the North’s movement.
“We once again urge North Korea to refrain from conducting an atomic test and firing long-range rockets and to take care of its people’s livelihoods,” he told a regular briefing.
Amid mounting concerns, China’s president-in-waiting Xi Jinping called for the resumption of six-party talks during his meeting with Park’s special envoys including Kim Moo-sung.
Xi, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, reiterated that tension should be eased through “dialogue and consultation so as to achieve the denuclearization of the peninsula and its long-term stability,” according to China’s official Xinhua.
Kim said Wednesday that Xi expressed his opposition to North Korea’s development of nuclear programs and other weapons of mass destruction.
“I think they have the history of doing provocations after the inauguration of South Korean presidents. It certainly does concern me,” Victor Cha, the Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Korea Herald.
“And the pattern of the new government in North Korea is we see provocations and they’re actually coming much closer together.”