SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Wednesday that its nuclear weapon program was no longer negotiable, and warned it is prepared to conduct its third nuclear test to retaliate against the U.N. Security Council's tightening of sanctions against the country for launching a rocket last month.
In a statement carried today by state media, the National Defense Commission in Pyongyang threatened to wage a "full-fledged confrontation" against the United States for what it calls continued hostility.
Although it wasn't the first time North Korea expressed such a strident stance, its posture, coming under the new leadership of Kim Jong Un, threw a direct challenge to President Barack Obama as he starts his second term, and Park Geun-hye, who will be sworn in next month as president of South Korea.
After years of tensions, both Obama and Park recently said they were keeping the door open for dialogue with North Korea.
The North's comments came as the United States reaffirmed its policy of punishing North Korea for moving toward the development of long-range missiles with a nuclear warhead, spearheading international backing for a unanimous Security Council resolution Tuesday.
The resolution tightened existing sanctions and condemned North Korea's Dec. 12 rocket launch as a violation of earlier resolutions banning it from tests involving ballistic missile technology. North Korea called the launch a peaceful satellite mission.
Information from New York Times and Associated Press was used in this report.