North Korea on Thursday slammed Japan’s “unpardonable criminal decision” to release treated nuclear waste from the Fukushima plant into the Pacific Ocean.

“Japan is going to inflict another disaster upon mankind suffering from malignant epidemic,” read a statement published on the state-run Korea Central News Agency.

“This is an unpardonable criminal decision posing grave threat to health and security of mankind and ecological environment, which comes to be another clear instance showing Japan’s shamelessness and gangster-like nature.”

Pyongyang’s criticism follows similar concerns raised by China, South Korea, and the island nation of Taiwan, after Japan announced earlier this week that it intends to start dumping “treated” wastewater from the destroyed nuclear plant into the ocean in the next two years.

A group of UN experts has also said the move poses risks to the region’s population.

“The Japanese government, which has failed so far to make a decision in the face of strong opposition by the international community, is advertising the dangerous radioactive water as ‘clean water’ treated through purification process,” the news report said.

“Japan’s decision brought to light again its true colors as a villain, notorious rogue that threatens mankind and destroys the global ecological environment for the sake of its own interests.”

The mouthpiece of the North Korean regime said Tokyo must “immediately withdraw its decision on radioactive water discharge.”

The US has backed Japan’s plan and the International Atomic Energy Agency has said it will play a “central and permanent role in monitoring the discharge.”

“Dumping nuclear wastewater into the sea cannot be the first option or the only option,” Lijian Zhao, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said on Friday.

“Japan should be responsible for all mankind and take back its wrong decision.”

– ‘Action plan by end of year’

Brushing aside rising international pressure, Japan said on Friday that it aims to have an action plan by the end of 2021.

“We will proactively take swift measures to deepen understanding of people in Japan and overseas,” Katsunobu Kato, chief Cabinet secretary, said in a meeting, Kyodo News reported.

However, Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori urged Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government to “work as one to take all-out measures so that efforts to rebuild [the crisis-hit area] and dispel harmful rumors do not suffer a setback.”

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said at a separate news conference that it “is safe to drink treated radioactive water.”

“I’m sure that the water will be diluted so that the tritium concentration is one-seventh of the level safe for drinking water under the World Health Organization’s guideline,” he said.

Tokyo’s move has come after years of talks on how to get rid of more than 1 million tons of water accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex since the meltdown triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

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