June 14, 2009 in Nation/World

N. Korea vows bold nuke effort

Kwang-Tae Kim Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Visitors walk next to a sign illustrating North Korea’s missiles at an observation post near the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea responded to new U.N. sanctions with more defiance, promising Saturday to step up its nuclear bomb-making program by enriching uranium and threatening war on any country that dares to stop its ships on the high seas.

The North’s threats were the first public acknowledgment that the reclusive communist nation has been running a secret uranium enrichment program.

The country also vowed never to give up its nuclear ambitions as a way to protect its sovereignty amid signs of preparations for naming its ailing leader Kim Jong Il’s youngest son, Jong Un, as his successor.

Despite repeated assurances from Washington, North Korea has harbored deep-rooted suspicions that the U.S. could invade to topple its regime.

“It has become an absolutely impossible option for (North Korea) to even think about giving up its nuclear weapons,” the North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea also warned that any attempted blockade by the U.S. and its allies would be regarded as “an act of war and met with a decisive military response.”

The new threats came in response to tough new sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council over the North’s second nuclear test on May 25.

The sanctions are aimed at depriving North Korea of the financing used to build its rogue nuclear program. The resolution also authorized searches of North Korean ships suspected of transporting illicit ballistic missile and nuclear materials.

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