SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea angrily mocked international criticism of its multiple missile tests, threatening on Thursday to fire off more rockets.

In the face of nearly unanimous world condemnation of the seven missile tests on Wednesday, Pyongyang’s foreign minister released a blustery statement declaring that it had the right to develop and test its weapons – and vowing unspecified retaliation against anyone who tries to stop it.

“Our military will continue with missile launch drills in the future as part of efforts to strengthen self-defense deterrent,” said the statement, carried in state-run media. “If anyone intends to dispute or add pressure about this, we will have to take stronger physical actions in other forms.”

The statement did not specify what actions North Korea would take.

The aggressive stance from Pyongyang coincided with intense diplomatic activity in world capitals to formulate a response to the tests. Washington and its allies – particularly Japan – clamored for sanctions against the North, but struggled against resistance by China and Russia.

North Korea set off an international furor on Wednesday when it tested seven missiles, all of which landed into the Sea of Japan without causing any damage. The blasts apparently included a long-range Taepodong-2 that broke up less than a minute after takeoff and splashed into the sea.

On Friday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei – their nations’ senior negotiators on North Korea – conferred on the missile tests.

Hill and Wu exchanged pleasantries before their meeting. After its conclusion, Hill was scheduled to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, before the U.S. envoy heads for Seoul.

A Japanese newspaper reported Friday that North Korea had targeted South Pacific waters in the vicinity of Hawaii with the long-range missile. The conservative daily Sankei cited unnamed U.S. and Japanese and officials as saying Japan’s Defense Agency and the U.S. military reached that conclusion after analyzing the missile’s path from data collected from intelligence equipment. The report couldn’t be immediately independently confirmed.

The statement threatening more tests came as South Korean officials said intelligence reports showed continued activity at Northern missile sites, suggesting further firings could be in the works.

It was unclear if or when the missiles would fly. Japanese officials said they had no indications another Taepodong test was being prepared, and South Korean officials said the launches were not imminent.

Still, the North pulled no punches in its statement, hailing the launches on Wednesday as a success and making no mention of the Taepodong-2 failure.

“The successful missile launches were part of our military’s regular military drills to strengthen self defense,” said the statement. “As a sovereign country, this is our legal right and we are not bound by any international law or bilateral or multilateral agreements.”

The ministry also denied it had violated a missile moratorium, saying it was only in effect when Pyongyang was in dialogue with the U.S. The statement also blamed the Japanese for making an international issue out of North Korea’s unsolved kidnappings of Japanese citizens.

Meanwhile, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday that Australia has decided to curtail its diplomatic ties with North Korea over the tests.

The report said that Michael L’Estrange, head of the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said departmental dealings with North Korean officials will be canceled.

The report did not elaborate and calls to the department seeking confirmation were not immediately returned.

Australia is one of a handful of countries that maintains limited diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.



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