April 16 (UPI) -- North Korea denounced a Japanese decision to release treated radioactive water into the sea, calling the decision an "unacceptable crime."
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA issued a commentary Thursday that accused Japan of "trying to bring upon humanity a new catastrophe" amid a global pandemic.
Japan must "immediately withdraw" its decision to release the wastewater, KCNA said.
North Korea's statement on Japanese policy related to Fukushima comes after Tokyo officially confirmed it would dispose the water into the Pacific in two years.
Meanwhile, tensions also are growing between China and Japan about the plan.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Wednesday that Japan's Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso should drink the water from the damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, referring to Aso's comment that the water was safe.
"A Japanese official said it is OK if we drink this water, so then please drink it," Zhao had said, while accusing Tokyo of environmental "ignorance."
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Japan's water disposal method is both "technically feasible and in line with international practice." The U.S. State Department has supported the Japanese decision.
North Korea said water from Fukushima would spread through the Pacific Ocean "within days."
"The discharge of contaminated water is a critical issue related to the safety of people's lives," KCNA said. "It is an unacceptable crime that seriously threatens the health and safety of humanity and the environment."
Aso said Friday he defends his previous statement about the safety of the treated radioactive water.
"I'm sure that the water will be diluted so that [the tritium concentration] is one-seventh of the level safe for drinking water under the World Health Organization's guideline," he said, according to Kyodo News.
Japan has said the tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen, is to be diluted to less than 1,500 becquerels per liter, the report said.