and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership,” the spokesman said, apparently referring to a sixth nuclear test and using the North’s official name, the Democratic Republic of Korea.
The North has carried out five nuclear tests in the last 11 years and is widely believed to be making progress towards its dream of building a missile capable of delivering a warhead to the US.
It raises the tone of its warnings every spring, when Washington and Seoul carry out joint exercises it condemns as rehearsals for invasion, but this time fears of conflict have been fuelled by a cycle of threats from both sides.
The joint drills have just ended, but naval exercises are continuing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), with a US strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
The spokesman said if the North was not armed with “the powerful nuclear force”, Washington would have “committed without hesitation the same brigandish aggression act in Korea as what it committed against other countries”.
The statement reasserts the North’s long-running rhetoric on its military capabilities.
Seoul also regularly warned that Pyongyang could carry out a test whenever it decided to.
In Tokyo, a Japanese naval destroyer left port yesterday on a reported mission of escorting US military ships off the coast as Japan tries to increase its military role amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula.
The helicopter carrier Izumo departed from the Yokosuka port near here in the morning.
The destroyer was to meet up and escort a US supply ship in the Pacific Ocean south of here yesterday, a new mission under the new security legislation allowing Japan’s military a greater role in overseas activity, according to Japanese media reports.
Reports said the US supply ship was expected to refuel other American warships, including the USS Carl Vinson strike group, currently in the region.
Japan’s Defence Ministry only said the Izumo left yesterday to eventually participate in an international naval event in Singapore on May 15. AFP