PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and "pattern of provocations" are a serious threat to Asian and world security.

North Korea released a statement later Thursday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' annual conference in Cambodia saying Washington's "never-ending nuclear threat" against the North has forced Pyongyang to build atomic weapons.

Animosity runs high after a North Korean rocket launch in April that Washington and Seoul call a cover for a banned long-range missile test. North Korea says it was a satellite launch attempt.

Clinton says Pyongyang's new leadership should focus on its people's "needs and aspirations" so it doesn't "fall further behind."

The North's statement says its nuclear program is a deterrent that reduces the risk of war.

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  • A missile is displayed during a military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of North Korea's founder Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SA-3 ground-to-air missiles are displayed before a portrait of former North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung during a military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of Kim Il-Sung, the country's founder, in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A North Korean flag flies before missiles displayed during a military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A North Korean missile Taepodong class is displayed during a military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SA-3 ground-to-air missiles are displayed during a military parade in honor of the 100th birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Taepodong-class missiles are displayed during a military parade in honor of the 100th birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)



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