North Korea warned that it will not be pressured and that Sunday's nuclear test was a "gift package" aimed at the US and that there would be more if it is provoked.

South Koreas Hyunmoo II ballistic missile is fired during an exercise at an undisclosed location in South Korea.
South Koreas Hyunmoo II ballistic missile is fired during an exercise at an undisclosed location in South Korea. (AP)

 A top North Korean diplomat warned on Tuesday that his country is ready to send "more gift packages" to the United States as world powers struggled for a response to Pyongyang's latest nuclear weapons test.

Han Tae Song, ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, confirmed that North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), had successfully conducted its sixth and largest nuclear bomb test on Sunday.

Pyongyang had said the test was successful and the bomb  was capable of being loaded to a long-range missile.

"The recent self-defence measures by my country, DPRK, are a gift package addressed to none other than the US," Han told a disarmament conference.

"The US will receive more 'gift packages' from my country as long as its relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK," he added without elaborating.

North Korea's promise of "gifts packages" came shortly after reports emerged that it was moving a rocket which appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) towards its west coast.

South Korea’s Asia Business Daily cited an unidentified source on Tuesday, saying North Korea was moving its ICBM. The rocket started moving on Monday and was spotted moving only at night to avoid surveillance, the report said.

South Korea’s defence ministry, which warned on Monday that North Korea was ready to launch an ICBM at any time, said they were unable to confirm the contents of the report.

North Korea tested two ICBMs in July that could fly about 10,000 km (6,200 miles), putting many parts of the US mainland within range and prompting a new round of international sanctions against Pyongyang.

Unintended consequences

The UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned the US and North Korea that "confrontational rhetoric may lead to unintended consequences" and stressing that the nuclear crisis must be solved diplomatically.

He said it was "absolutely crucial" that the U.N. Security Council is united in dealing with North Korea's nuclear and missile tests and that the US, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea use one strategy.

Guterres told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday that North Korea's nuclear and missile tests threaten regional and international stability.

He accused North Korea's leaders of "needlessly and recklessly (putting) millions of people at risk including its own citizens already suffering drought, hunger and serious violations of their human rights."

Guterres urged communication and offered to support any efforts to peacefully resolve "this alarming situation."

Russia on North Korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear missile programme would not change the leadership in Pyongyang, but could lead to large-scale human suffering.

Putin, speaking after a BRICs summit in China, also warned against further ramping up military hysteria around North Korea, saying that could lead to “global catastrophe.”

“North Korea will not drop its nuclear programme unless it feels secure,” he said.

Russian oil supplies to North Korea are close to zero and Moscow has not discussed the possibility of curbs on energy supplies to Pyongyang with its international partners, Russian energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters in China.

“We only supply oil products there, while the volumes are negligible, close to zero,” Novak said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said later on Tuesday that he is open to all forms of talks with North Korea, but now is not the time for dialogue.

Moon was speaking in an interview with Russia's TASS news agency in Russia a day ahead of his summit meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum which kicks off on Wednesday.

TRT World's Francis Collings has more on the international difference of opinions over North Korea.

Ramping up South Korea’s defences

South Korea – which comes under the US umbrella of protection – is talking to Washington about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula. The South has been ramping up its own defences in the meantime.

South Korea’s navy held more drills on Tuesday.

“Today’s training is being held to prepare for maritime North Korean provocations, inspect our navy’s readiness and to reaffirm our will to punish the enemy,” an unidentified South Korean naval officer told a defence ministry briefing.

Under Trump's umbrella

US President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in agreed on Monday to scrap a warhead weight limit on South Korea’s missiles, South Korea’s presidential office said, enabling it to strike North Korea with greater force in the event of a military conflict. The White House said Trump gave “in-principle approval” to the move.

The United States and South Korea signed a pact in 1979, a year after the South successfully tested a ballistic missile, with Washington expressing the need for limits on ballistic missile capability over concerns that such tests could harm regional security.

South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

Both sides have thousands of rockets and artillery pieces aimed at each other across the world’s most heavily armed border. 

However, the North’s rapid development of nuclear weapons and missiles has altered the balance, requiring a stronger response from South Korea, officials say.

“We believe the unlimited warhead payload will be useful in responding to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a briefing on Tuesday.

North and South Korea's payloads 

Under the current guidelines, last changed in 2012, South Korea can develop missiles up to a range of 800 km (500 miles) with a maximum payload of 500 kg (1,102 pounds).

Most of North Korea’s missiles are designed to carry payloads of 100-1,000 kg (220-2,205 pounds), according to Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a US-based think thank.

The Hwasong 14 ICBM, tested twice by the North in July, has a potential range of up to 10,000 km (6,210 miles) and is capable of carrying a 300-700 kg (660-1,540 pounds) warhead, according to the NTI.

A Chinese scientist has warned the mountain under which North Korea most likely conducted its five most recent nuclear bomb tests might implode. Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei calculated all tests were conducted at the Punggye-ri site.

Another senior scientist says if the mountain collapses, the entire region – including China – will be exposed to the radiation which escapes.

At the UN

On Monday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was “begging for war." She urged the 15-member UN Security Council to impose the “strongest possible” sanctions to deter him and shut down his trading partners.

China, North Korea’s main ally and trading partner, and Russia called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

“China will never allow chaos and war on the (Korean) peninsula,” said Liu Jieyi, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, urging North Korea to stop taking actions that were “wrong” and not in its own interests.

Trump held calls with foreign leaders on Monday, including South Korean President Moon Jae-in and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the White House declared that “all options to address the North Korean threat are on the table.”

Despite the tough talk, the immediate focus of the international response was on tougher economic sanctions, including a ban on North Korean textile exports and its national airline, stopping supplies of oil to the government and military, preventing North Koreans from working abroad and adding top officials to a blacklist to subject them to an asset freeze and travel ban.

The sanctions imposed after July’s missile tests aimed to slash Pyongyang’s $3 billion annual export revenue by a third by banning exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies