UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea on Friday accused the United States of being "hell-bent on regime change" and warned that any maneuvers with that intention will be viewed as a "red line" that will result in countermeasures.
Pyongyang's deputy U.N. ambassador Ri Tong Il also repeated that his government "made it very clear we will carry out a new form of nuclear test" but refused to elaborate, saying only that "I recommend you to wait and see what it is."
His comments came at North Korea's second press conference at the United Nations in two weeks, a surprising rate for the reclusive Communist regime.
Ri blamed the U.S. for aggravating tensions on the Korean Peninsula by continuing "very dangerous" military drills with South Korea, by pursuing action in the U.N. Security Council against his country's recent ballistic missile launches and by going after Pyongyang's human rights performance.
Ri also accused the U.S. of blocking a resumption of six-party talks on its nuclear program by settling preconditions and said Washington's primary goal is to maintain tensions and prevent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
A U.S. diplomat who was not authorized to comment publicly later responded: "We have long made clear - in close consultation with our allies - that we are open to improved relations with the DPRK if it is willing to take clear actions to live up to its international obligations and commitments."
North Korea walked away from the six-party nuclear disarmament talks in 2009 over disagreements on how to verify steps the North was meant to take to end its nuclear programs. The U.S. and its allies are demanding that the North demonstrate its sincerity in ending its drive to acquire nuclear weapons.
Since pulling out of the six-party talks, the North has conducted two nuclear tests, at least two long-range rocket tests and most recently short-range rocket launches.
Using the initials of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's official name, Ri said, "The DPRK has been making strenuous, hard efforts, very generous, toward easing the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but ignoring all this generous position of the DPRK and its proposals, the U.S. went ahead with opening the joint military drills, very aggressive nature, and they're now expanding in a crazy manner the scale of this exercise."
He also rejected as "illegal" a Security Council statement last week that condemned North Korea's test-firing of two medium-range ballistic missiles as violations of council resolutions.
The deputy ambassador did not answer questions on detained American Kenneth Bae or on his country's drone program, which it has been promoting recently. South Korean experts this week claimed that two small, camera-equipped drones had been flown across the border by the North, calling them crude and decidedly low-tech. Both drones crashed in South Korea.
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer contributed.