WASHINGTON – Washington stressed its resolve to defend Asian allies Wednesday, warning North Korea against "saber-rattling and bluster" in the wake of its nuclear test will only deepen the country's isolation.
The US reiterated commitments to defend Japan and South Korea amid threats from Pyongyang's leaders, who are apparently angered at the fallout from its recent nuclear and missile tests.
"I want to underscore the commitments the United States has and intends always to honor for the defense of South Korea and Japan," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
"That is part of our alliance commitment that we take very seriously," Clinton said claiming North Korea's actions had contravened pledges it made during six party talks involving Japan, South Korea, Russia, China and Washington.
Amid a hail of international condemnation North Korea said it would abandon the truce that ended the Korean war Wednesday and warned it could launch a military attack on the South.
The comments, which came two days after the Stalinist state tested an nuclear bomb for the second time, drew further condemnation from the United States - which vowed to counter any military threat.
"(North Korea) has ignored the international community, it has abrogated the obligations it entered into through the six-party talks and it continues to act in a provocative and belligerent manner towards its neighbors," Clinton said.
"There are consequences to such actions."
Her statement came after the regime of Kim Jong-Il had said it could no longer guarantee the safety of US and South Korean ships off its west coast and that the Korean peninsula was veering back towards war.
The North's anger was provoked by the South's decision to join a US-led international security initiative, established after the September 11 attacks to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction
The White House condemned North Korea's response.
"We're certainly concerned and take any threat seriously. But my sense is they're trying to get renewed attention through saber-rattling and bluster and threats," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
"Threats won't get North Korea the attention it craves. Their actions are continuing to further deepen their own isolation, from the international community," Gibbs told reporters.
"This is the fifth time in 15 years that they've sought to nullify the armistice governing the Korean War," said Gibbs, adding: "I think their actions would be better focused on living up to their rights and obligations."
The United States and its allies are doing "all that we can" to ensure North Korea is not spreading nuclear know-how, said the spokesman.
But amid the bluster, Clinton offered a diplomatic olive branch to Pyongyang, leaving open its return to the negotiating table.
"There will be an opportunity for North Korea to come back into a framework of discussion within the six party process and that we can begin once again to see results from working with the North Koreans toward denuclearization."
© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.