North Korea: Keeping Up Pressure

The UN Security Council continues to consider more severe sanctions in retaliation for North Korea's largest-ever nuclear test.

Meanwhile, the country is preparing to mark an important anniversary, its Foundation Day. Pyongyang has previously conducted significant tests on this day in the past.

NHK World's Takashi Koga reports that all eyes are on the North ahead of this weekend.

Celebrations in North Korea continue following its latest and most powerful nuclear test.

It has issued threats to the US and Japan as the countries try to get tough new sanctions against North Korea adopted at the UN Security Council.

"The US will face an unbearable and firm response if it sticks to sanctions and pressure," said North Korean Broadcaster KCTV. "Japan must stop working as the hands and feet of the US. Japan should be punished because it has been actively taking part in the sanctions."

Foundation Day is a significant occasion in the reclusive country, marked by an annual convention of the country's leadership. Last year, the North conducted its fifth nuclear test.

At the UN Security Council, the US is pushing new sanctions such as an oil embargo, textile export ban and freeze on leader Kim Jong Un's assets.

And while US President Donald Trump's administration has signaled a diplomatic solution could still be possible.

Trump is taking a harder line, again refusing to exclude a military option against the North.

"It's something certainly that could happen. Our military has never been stronger. If we do use it on North Korea it will be a very sad day for North Korea," he said.

The South Korean prime minister has warned that the North may launch another intercontinental ballistic missile test to mark the anniversary.

A South Korean expert says that at this point, new UN sanctions must be adopted, even if it takes a compromise from the US.

"The sanctions have to account for the interests of China and Russia, simply because they have the veto power within the security council," says J. James Kim, Chair at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. "The security council has any chance of a hope passing sanctions of resolution that must be able to round up the support of these two countries."

So ahead of this important holiday Japan, the US and South Korea are all keeping a close eye on the North, watching to see what the country might have planned next.