orth Korea said Thursday that it plans to carry out a new nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches, all of which it said are a part of a new phase of confrontation with the United States.
The North's National Defense Commission said the moves would feed into an "upcoming all-out action" that would target the United States, "the sworn enemy of the Korean people."
Carried by the state media, the comments are the latest defiant flourish from the reclusive North Korean regime, whose young leader, Kim Jong Un, has upheld his father's policy of pursuing a military deterrent and shrugging off international pressure.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday there are no "outward indications" that North Korea is about to conduct a nuclear test, but he admitted it would be hard to determine that in advance.
"They have the capability, frankly, to conduct these tests in a way that makes it very difficult to determine whether or not they are doing it," he said in a Pentagon press conference.
"We are very concerned with North Korea's continuing provocative behavior," Panetta said, but he added that the United States is "fully prepared" to deal with any provocations.