The Korea Asia-Pacific peace committee, which oversees North Korea’s relations with the outside world, described the UN security council, which passed a new round of sanctions on Monday, as a “tool of evil” in the pay of Washington, and called for it to be broken up.
It is the first time that Pyongyang has issued an explicit threat to Japan since it fired a medium-range ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido at the end of last month, triggering emergency sirens and mass text alerts.
“Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the committee added.
The 15-member security council voted unanimously in support of a US-drafted resolution condemning the missile test and imposing measures that include a ban on North Korean textile imports and restrictions on oil exports to the country.
In response, the committee said the US should be “beaten to death like a rabid dog” for the “heinous sanctions resolution”.
“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,” it said.
Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, described the statement as “extremely provocative and egregious”.
He added: “It is something that markedly heightens regional tension and is absolutely unacceptable.”
A new report has claimed that the detonation on 3 September of what North Korea claimed was a hydrogen bomb involved a device with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons – making it far more powerful than initially thought.
The US-based 38 North website noted that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation had revised upwards the seismic power created by the test from magnitude 5.8 to 6.1.
It added: “This revision is significant because, rather than providing an equivalent yield of about 120 kilotons derived from the lower magnitude estimates, the application of standard formula with appropriate constants shows that the yield can now be estimated to have been roughly 250 kilotons (one quarter megaton).
“Regardless of whether this most recent test was an operational warhead for an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] or simply a device, the yield of the test clearly shows North Korean progress in increasing the yields of their nuclear weapons.”
After weeks of heightened tensions and threats emanating from Pyongyang and Washington, there are signs that US and other officials may be attempting to engage the regime diplomatically.