LONDON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- North Korea's ambassador to Britain said Pyongyang could launch rockets "at any time," and that North Korea could send nuclear warheads 10 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb across the Pacific.
In an unusual public appearance on Wednesday, Ambassador Hyon Hak Bong said the threat of sanctions would not prevent North Korea from launching rockets for what Pyongyang has called "peaceful purposes," The Guardian reported.
"Launching satellites is the work performed by every country. It is the legitimate right of a sovereign state to develop a space program," Hyon told an audience at London's Chatham House. "They wouldn't use any such kind of sanctions against other countries."
The United States and South Korea have opposed the launches because officials believe the program is a cover for missile tests. Any rocket launch would be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and the international community has warned Pyongyang against acts of provocation.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se recently warned more sanctions could follow in the wake of a North Korea launch, but on Wednesday Hyon said if the United States increases sanctions, Pyongyang would fight back, South Korean outlet Oh My News reported.
The United States recently imposed new sanctions against two North Korean firms, Korea Mining and Development and Hesong Trading Corp. According to the U.S. State Department, on Sept. 24, the companies were found to have engaged in missile technology proliferation activities that require additional sanctions under Executive Orders 12398 and 13222. North Korea sanctions also were recently implemented in Britain.
Hyon said North Korea is preparing for the launches and is ready to deal with any outside pressure, adding that Pyongyang is not concerned with sanctions, but if provoked would take appropriate action.
Hyon said if war breaks on the Korean peninsula, it would not be contained, and nuclear warheads with 10 times the payload of the atomic bomb detonated in Hiroshima would traverse the Pacific.
"If North Korea is attacked, we will use nuclear missiles in retaliation," Hyon said.