(Photo: AP Photo / Vincent Yu)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has sparked concerns around the globe after its government claimed that its planned nuclear tests will target the U.S., which it called "the sworn enemy of the Korean people."
"Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival," read a statement from North Korea's National Defense Commission, the nation's highest government agency, as reported by ABC News and several other sources.
The U.S. has expressed fears that the Pacific nation is working toward a nuclear device that can be mounted on a long-range missile and be launched toward America.
The isolated pacific nation has already held two previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, and has defied all international warnings not to continue with its weapons program. It had previously said that its nuclear tests were strictly carried out for research and peaceful purposes, but the latest claim from the North Korea Defense Commission appears to reveal Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un's real intentions.
"We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States," the statement added, although it did not explain when exactly this "high level test" will be conducted.
Sources said the move was likely to be a direct challenge to U.S. President Barack Obama, who began his second term in office on Monday, and South Korea's newly elected leader, President Park Geun-hye, who takes charge next month.
The U.S. has expressed its disappointment that North Korea has decided to proceed with another nuclear test. Hopes had lingered that Kim Jong-Un would be more open to negotiations and seeking peaceful solutions than his father, Kin Jon-Il, known for his stern dictatorship..
"We hope they don't do it, we call on them not to do it. It will be a mistake and a missed opportunity if they were to do it," remarked Glyn Davies, the U.S. special envoy on North Korea policy who is currently visiting Seoul. "This is not a moment to increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula."
BBC News reported that some experts believe the previous tests North Korea carried out involved using plutonium as fissile material, but now the Koreans might be working on a program to produce highly-enriched uranium.
"It's a major test for Kim Jong-Un," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea specialist at Dongguk University in Seoul, as reported by The New York Times. "Unlike the rocket launching in December, which the North has said was conducted because it was his father's dying wish, a nuclear test will be Kim Jong-Un's decision, one for which he will be held responsible."