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North Korea Says It Will Accelerate Nuclear Weapons Program

A South Korean scientist shows seismic waves created by the North's nuclear test in May.
In the wake of new UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea, Pyongyang has said it will step up its nuclear weapons program by using all the plutonium produced from its nuclear reactors to make bombs.

In a statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said that “all plutonium to be extracted will be weaponized,” and that the country’s nuclear facilities will start uranium enrichment.

The statement also said the North will take military action if the United States and allies tried to isolate it or impose a "blockade."

The warning was carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 13.

A day earlier, the UN Security Council unanimously approved expanded sanctions and a trade and arms embargo against North Korea in response to its May 25 second nuclear test and its continued defiance of the international community.

The sanctions impose a wider ban on arms sales to Pyongyang as well as other financial restrictions. And they authorize UN member states to inspect North Korean sea, air, and land cargo for potential weapons materials.

The U.S. deputy ambassador to the UN, Rosemary DiCarlo, said the measures were “innovative,” “robust,” and “unprecedented.”

DiCarlo said the resolution “strengthens and enhances sanctions on North Korea in five critically important areas: by imposing a total embargo on arms exports from North Korea and significantly expanding the ban on arms imports” and “by creating a wholly new framework for states to cooperate in the inspection of ships and aircraft suspected to be carrying weapons of mass destruction or other banned goods.”

The sanctions will also work “by calling on states and international financial institutions to disrupt the flow of funds that could support North Korea's missile, nuclear or proliferation activities; by committing to designate for targeted sanctions additional goods, entities and individuals involved in North Korea's illicit behavior; and finally by strengthening the mechanisms to monitor and tighten the implementation of this tough and new sanctions regime," DiCarlo said.

The final text was hammered out during two weeks of closed-door negotiations by ambassadors from the five permanent Security Council nations -- the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia -- as well as the two countries most closely affected by the test, Japan and South Korea.

All 15 members of the Security Council urged North Korea to return to the six-party talks in Beijing which also include South Korea, the United States, China, Russia, and Japan.

According to reports, North Korea may be preparing for a third nuclear test.

Pyongyang is thought to possess enough reprocessed plutonium for up to eight nuclear weapons. It has tested a rocket thought to be capable of carrying a warhead, though Pyongyang said it was designed to carry a satellite.