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North Korea threatens 'final destruction' of South Korea in UN debate

GENEVA - North Korea threatened South Korea with "final destruction" during a debate at the U.N Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take "second and third steps" after a nuclear test last week.

In response to North Korea's recent nuclear test, South Korea stages military exercises and artillery drills along the border with North Korea. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

"As the saying goes, a newborn puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction," North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting.

Without specifically referring to the nuclear test, Jon said North Korea had recently taken a "resolute step for self-defense," which he described as "strong counteractions to a foreign aggressor."

"If the U.S. takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it (North Korea) will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession," he added without elaborating.

His comments drew immediate criticism from other nations, including South Korea and Britain, whose ambassador Joanne Adamson said such language was "completely inappropriate" and the discussion with North Korea was heading in the wrong direction.

Ambassador Susan Rice tells reporters at the United Nations that North Korea's latest, "highly-provocative" and "regrettable" act of testing a nuclear weapon "directly violates" security council resolution and threatens international peace, "vowing a swift, credible and strong response."

"It cannot be allowed that we have expressions which refer to the possible destruction of U.N. member states," she said.

U.S. Ambassador Laura Kennedy said she found North Korea's statement profoundly disturbing.

“I also was particularly struck by the phrase 'heralding the destruction of the Republic of Korea' and find that language incredibly inconsistent with the goals and objectives that this body is intended to pursue," she said. 

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