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US: NKorea isolates itself further with nuclear test threat: US

30 Apr 2009 2:40 AM

WASHINGTON, April 29 AFP - The United States warned North Korea that it is deepening its international isolation with its threats on Wednesday to carry out a second nuclear test.

"Let me just say very clearly that these threats only further isolate the North," State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters after the latest escalation in the showdown with Pyongyang since its April 5 rocket launch.

North Korea threatened on Wednesday to conduct nuclear tests and test-firings of interncontinental ballistic missiles unless the UN Security Council apologises for condemning its long-range rocket launch.

"I don't think you'll see an apology from the Security Council," Wood said.

The threat made by the foreign ministry in Pyongyang further raised regional tensions after the North's rocket launch. Pyongyang said it put a peaceful satellite into orbit while other nations saw a disguised missile test.

The Security Council condemned the launch and ordered tougher enforcement of sanctions imposed in 2006 after the North's missile launch and first nuclear test earlier that year.

The communist state reacted angrily, announcing it was quitting a six-nation nuclear disarmament pact and restarting the plants at Yongbyon which produced weapons-grade plutonium.

Wood said Wednesday that the United States was working with its partners in the six-way talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia in order to find a way to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiations.

Hours after the UN's first move to toughen sanctions - a freeze on the foreign assets of three North Korean firms suspected of aiding the missile program - the North said work had begun to reprocess spent fuel rods.

Wednesday's statement blasted the assets freeze as an infringement of its sovereignty.

The North tested an atomic weapon in October 2006. But just over four months later it signed a landmark six-nation deal to disable its atomic plants in return for energy aid and other concessions.