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July 26, 2017

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North Korea to 'completely review' nuclear issue: report

SEOUL--North Korea said Friday it had no choice but to "completely review" the nuclear issue after accusing the United States and South Korea over a plot to blow up a statue of its founding leader.

The threat came after the North arrested a man who was allegedly trying to blow up a monument to Kim Il Sung, an act which the foreign ministry described as a "war action as serious as the armed invasion."

Pyongyang claimed South Korean intelligence authorities had hired him to carry out the plot and that Washington was actively involved.

"The consistent hostile policy towards the DPRK (North Korea) pursued by the U.S. is giving rise to the evil cycle of confrontation and tensions on the Korean Peninsula, making the prospect of denuclearizing the peninsula all the more gloomy," the foreign ministry said in a statement released by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The situation compels us to completely review the nuclear issue."

The statement did not elaborate on what was meant by the review. But it will add to concerns Pyongyang is planning to conduct a third nuclear test following its failed rocket launch in April.

Last month the North said it had no plans "at present" to conduct such a test.

The statement said the plot ran counter to a 2005 deal under which Pyongyang agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in return for economic and diplomatic benefits and security guarantees.

Seoul Friday confirmed the man who was arrested in the North was a defector who had settled in the South.

Jon Yong-chol was presented at a press conference in Pyongyang Thursday where he said he had been promised handsome rewards from South Korean agents if he succeeded in his mission.

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