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US rattles sabre at North Korea

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The US has warned North Korea that it can have nuclear weapons or it can have a future - "but it cannot have them both", the BBC reports.

The sabre-rattling comes after the Pyongyang regime announced earlier this week it would conduct a nuclear warhead test. North Korea's foreign ministry declared: "[North Korea] will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed. The US daily increasing threat of a nuclear war and its vicious sanctions and pressure have caused a grave situation on the Korean Peninsula."

The US's response was swift and predictable. Negotiator Christopher Hill - the US's chief representative in the six-nation talks aimed at resolving the North Korea nuclear issue - said the country had arrived at "a very important fork in the road - it can have a future or it can have these weapons, but it cannot have them both".

He further warned: "I am not prepared at this point to say what we are going to do but I am prepared to say we are not going to wait for a nuclear North Korea, we are not going to accept it."

Down at the UN, meanwhile, US efforts to rally support for a test ban have not as yet yielded the desired result. Japan is pushing for "a strongly-worded UN statement", while China has asked North Korea to "exercise the necessary calm and restraint", and favours resumption of the six-nation talks.

Russia and South Korea have both condemned North Korea's nuke test plans as "unacceptable", but there is no consensus as how best to proceed. US envoy to the UN, John Bolton, admitted: "At this stage, there's division." ®

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