November 10, 2008

North Korea threatened Monday to take “ultra-hardline” steps if Japan strengthens sanctions against it.

“The DPRK (North Korea) will respond in a ultra-hardline manner to Japan’s pressure and strengthened sanctions,” the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary without giving details.

Japan’s sanctions — imposed after the North tested an atom bomb in October 2006 for the first time — include bans on all imports from the impoverished state and all port calls by North Korean-registered ships.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has reportedly suggested that Tokyo may consider more sanctions to press Pyongyang to account for Japanese civilians kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s to train the North’s spies.

North Korea agreed in June to start a new probe into the abductions but said in September, before the conservative Aso came to power, that it would delay the investigation.

Rodong described as “nonsense” any attempt by Japan to impose more pressure or additional sanctions.

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