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N. Korea hints at further nuclear, missile provocations

All Headlines 17:59 May 16, 2017

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Tuesday it will continue to conduct nuclear or missile tests with smaller and more diversified nuclear weapons, according to its state media.

The pledge came at a meeting between a senior North Korean foreign ministry official and diplomatic representatives from four Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam and Laos, over its latest test of a new ballistic missile.

North Korea said Monday that it successfully test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile the previous day which it says can carry a heavy nuclear warhead, claiming that the U.S. mainland is within its striking range.

Pak Jong-hak, the director of Asian affairs, told the diplomats stationed in Pyongyang that the North is ready to counter Washington's possible attacks, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"Until the U.S. and its followers make a right choice, we will further produce sophisticated and diversified nuclear weapons and striking means and push to prepare for necessary tests," Pak was quoted as saying by the KCNA.

His remarks are seen as hinting at another nuclear explosion or a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) under development.

The missile launched on Sunday appeared to be the most powerful one that the North has ever fired, prompting North Korea to move one step closer to the ICBM development.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in January that his country has entered the final stage of preparing to launch an ICBM. But outside experts said Pyongyang seems to be still years away from doing so.

This set of photos carried by North Korea's main newspaper Rodong Sinmun on May 15, 2017, shows a new North Korean mid-to-long-range ballistic missile, called the Hwasong-12, which was launched a day earlier. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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