North Korea reacted defiantly Wednesday to a new round of UN sanctions, hinting that it would carry out a nuclear test and ruling out any talks on denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
"We will take physical actions aimed at expanding and strengthening our self-defensive military forces, including nuclear deterrence," the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
The statement came hours after the UN Security Council unanimously ordered new sanctions against North Korea for a banned rocket launch last month and threatened "significant action" if it stages a nuclear test.
"There will be no dialogue to discuss denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," the North Korean statement said.
Although it made no explicit mention of a nuclear test, the threat of "physical action" will fuel speculation that Pyongyang is preparing to carry out what would be its third test of a nuclear device.
Last month a US think-tank citing satellite photos said the North had repaired extensive rain damage at the nuclear test site in the northeast of the country and could conduct a detonation on two weeks' notice.
South Korea's unification minister Yu Woo-Ik recently told a parliamentary committee that it was "highly probable" the North would follow up the successful rocket launch with another nuclear test.
"Judging from analysis of intelligence, significant preparations have been made," Yu said.
North Korea's two previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 were both carried out in the wake of long-range missile launches.
Tuesday's UN resolution, proposed by the United States, "condemned" North Korea for what it said was a "ballistic missile technology" test on December 12.
The North, already under tough UN sanctions for its previous nuclear tests, said the launch was to put a satellite in space.
The resolution added North Korea's space agency, a bank, four trading companies and four individuals to a UN sanctions list for an assets freeze and travel ban.