By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- The United States is working with its allies to prepare for all contingencies originating from North Korea, a state department spokesperson said Friday, highlighting the possibility of a North Korean nuclear test in the foreseeable future.
Ned Price also stressed that a nuclear test by North Korea would constitute a "grave escalatory action" following its unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests.
"We have spoken to this in recent months in some detail. We have said for some weeks now that we've seen indications that the DPRK has completed preparations for a possible seventh nuclear test," the department spokesperson said when asked about a potential North Korean nuclear test in a telephonic press briefing.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name. North Korea conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.
A seventh nuclear test, Price said, "would constitute a grave escalatory action."
"It would be dangerous. It would be deeply destabilizing to the region, would blatantly violate international law," he added.
Price said the potential for a seventh nuclear test has been the topic of discussion between the U.S. and its allies "at various levels," noting U.S. President Joe Biden recently held bilateral and trilateral summits with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The U.S. "will continue to coordinate closely with them to prepare for all contingencies, including the possibility of a nuclear seventh nuclear test," said Price.
"And we are also coordinating very closely with our allies and partners in New York, where the (U.N.) Security Council has in the past worked collaboratively to hold the DPRK to account for its provocations," he added.
The 15-member Security Council, despite its unanimous vote to impose sanctions on North Korea in 2017, has been unable to slap fresh sanctions on Pyongyang, let alone condemn its record number of missile tests this year, due to opposition from China and Russia, both permanent members of the council and friendly neighbors of the recalcitrant North.
Pyongyang fired a record of 63 ballistic missiles this year, more than 2.5 times higher than its previous annual record of 25, according to U.S. officials.
Price called on China and Russia to fully implement the existing U.N. sanctions on North Korea.
"We think it is incumbent on all members of the U.N. system, especially members of the U.N. Security Council, especially permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to fully implement the Security Council resolutions that it itself had passed," said Price.
"Of course, we have failed to see that rigorous enforcement on the part of two members of the Security Council," he said of China and Russia. "We have routinely urged all members of the Security Council, including these two members, to uphold the commitments, the binding commitments that they have made."