North Korea is not frightened by U.S. warnings that pre-emptive military action is on the table, its foreign ministry said Tuesday, describing its expanding nuclear program as a “treasured sword of justice.” The regime “has the will and capability to fully respond to any war the U.S. would like to ignite,” it added. “The U.S. should face up to the situation … with its eyes wide open.”
It comes after leader Kim Jong Un announced the ground test of a “high-thrust” rocket engine on Saturday. “The world will soon witness what eventful significance the … recent ground jet test of Korean-style high-thrust engine will carry,” KCNA said Tuesday. “The nuclear force of [North Korea] is the treasured sword of justice and the most reliable war deterrence.”
Meanwhile the North Korean government website Uriminzokkiri released a propaganda video that appears to show a North Korea military strike on a US aircraft carrier and a US bomber.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said North Korea was the “number one threat” to the U.S. and that military action was an option if there was no co-operation. Her comments were echoed by former defense secretary William Cohen, who told CNBC that North Korea’s military escalation was “the most dangerous issue we have facing us today.”
The Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions aimed at cutting North Korea off from the global financial system as part of a broad review of measures to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threat, a senior U.S. official had said on Monday. The sanctions would be part of a multi-pronged approach of increased economic and diplomatic pressure – especially on Chinese banks and firms that do the most business with North Korea – plus beefed-up defenses by the United States and its South Korean and Japanese allies, according to the administration official familiar with the deliberations.
While the long-standing option of pre-emptive military strikes against North Korea is not off the table – as reflected by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s warning to Pyongyang during his Asia tour last week – the new administration is giving priority for now to less-risky options.
The objective of the U.S. move being considered would be to tighten the screws in the same way that the widening of sanctions – to encompass foreign firms dealing with Iran – was used to pressure Tehran to open negotiations with the West on its suspected nuclear weapons program.
[NBC / Huffington Post / CNN]