North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and friends. Picture: REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and friends. Picture: REUTERS

Seoul/Japan — A North Korean state agency threatened on Thursday to use nuclear weapons to "sink" Japan and reduce the US to "ashes and darkness" for supporting a UN Security Council resolution and sanctions over its latest nuclear test.

Pyongyang’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which handles the North’s external ties and propaganda, also called for the break-up of the Security Council, which it called "a tool of evil" made up of "money-bribed" countries that move at the order of the US.

"The four islands of the archipelago should be sunk into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us," the committee said in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

Juche is the North’s ruling ideology that mixes Marxism and an extreme form of go-it-alone nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.

Regional tensions have risen markedly since the North conducted its sixth, and most powerful, nuclear test on September 3. In response, the 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a US-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday, banning North Korea’s textile exports, which are the second largest only to coal and minerals, and capping fuel supplies.

The North reacted to the latest action by the Security Council, which had the backing of veto-holding China and Russia, by reiterating threats to destroy the US, Japan and South Korea.

"Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilisation of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now," the statement said.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index and dollar/yen currency pared gains, although traders said that was more because of several Chinese economic indicators released on Thursday than a reaction to the North’s latest statement. South Korea’s won also edged down around the same time over domestic financial concerns.

‘Dancing to the tune’

The North’s latest threats also singled out Japan for "dancing to the tune" of the US, saying it should never be pardoned for not offering a sincere apology for its "never-to-be-condoned crimes against our people", an apparent reference to Japan’s wartime aggression. It also referred to South Korea as "traitors and dogs" of the US.

Japan criticised the North’s statement harshly. "This announcement is extremely provocative and egregious. It is something that markedly heightens regional tension and is absolutely unacceptable," Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference on Thursday.

North Korea had already categorically rejected the Security Council resolution imposing sanctions over its latest test, vowing to press ahead with its nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of international pressure.

A tougher initial US draft of Monday’s resolution was weakened to win the support of China and Russia. Significantly, it stopped short of imposing a full embargo on oil exports to North Korea, most of which come from China. The latest sanctions also make it illegal for foreign firms to form commercial joint ventures with North Korean entities.

US President Donald Trump has vowed that North Korea will never be allowed to threaten the US with a nuclear-tipped missile, but has also asked China to do more to rein in its isolated neighbour. China, in turn, favours an international response to the problem.

Reuters

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