NKorea vows to strengthen nukes as US increases pressure

"As everybody knows, the Americans have gestured [toward] dialogue", Deputy UN Ambassador Kim In Ryong told reporters Friday, as cited by Reuters. Pyongyang is threatening a sixth nuclear test. He said North Korea would never abandon its "nuclear deterrence for self-defense and pre-emptive strike capability" even if the USA ratchets up sanctions and pressure "to the utmost".

But US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis refused to rule out a military solution.

Amid reports from South Korea that President Trump has said he was open to talks with North Korea "under certain circumstances", without ever making clear what those circumstances would be, North Korea has also put its own preconditions on the talks.

North Korea's missile program is progressing faster than expected, South Korea's defense minister said on May 15, hours after the UN Security Council demanded the North halt all nuclear and ballistic missile tests and condemned Sunday's test-launch.

He said North Korea "probably learned a lot" from last weekend's test.

More news: Sean Spicer no longer expected to give daily briefings

Both security companies this week said the WannaCry virus incorporated earlier code utilized by the Lazarus Group but declined to conclusively call it North Korea's handiwork.

A spokesman for the Italian mission to the United Nations, which chairs the UN security council North Korea sanctions committee, said on Friday that a member of the UN panel of experts who monitor sanctions violations had been hacked.

Kim accused the council of playing "to the tune of the US again" and protested the Trump administration's demand for countries to choose allegiance between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, his country's official name. "Therefore, the urgent issue to be settled on the Korean Peninsula is to put a definite end to the U.S. hostile policy towards DPRK, the root cause of all problems". Getting diplomacy going is likely to depend heavily on U.S. acquiescence, with the Trump Administration insisting diplomacy is a "failure".

Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer reported this story at the United Nations and AP writer Matthew Pennington reported from Washington.

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