North Korea yesterday vowed to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US, amplifying its threatening rhetoric hours ahead of a vote by UN diplomats on whether to level new sanctions against Pyongyang for its recent nuclear test.
An unidentified spokesman for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the North will exercise its right for “a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors” because Washington is pushing to start a nuclear war against Pyongyang.
Although North Korea boasts of nuclear bombs and pre-emptive strikes, it is not thought to have mastered the ability to produce a warhead small enough to put on a missile capable of reaching the US. However, it is believed to have enough nuclear fuel for several crude nuclear devices.
Inflammatory rhetoric from North Korea is common and especially so in recent days. North Korea is angry over the possible sanctions and over upcoming US-South Korean military drills. At a mass rally in Pyongyang yesterday, tens of thousands of North Koreans protested the drills and sanctions.
The UN Security Council is set to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Pyongyang in a fresh attempt to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, the current council president, said the council was to vote on the draft sanctions resolution yesterday morning.
The resolution was drafted by the US and China, North Korea’s closest ally. The council’s agreement to put the resolution to a vote just 48 hours later signaled that it would almost certainly have the support of all 15 council members.
The statement by the North Korean spokesman was carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency.
It accused the US of leading efforts to slap sanctions on North Korea and said the sanctions would only advance the timing for North Korea to fulfil previous vows to take “powerful second and third countermeasures” against its enemies.
The statement said North Korea “strongly warns the UN Security Council not to make another big blunder like the one in the past when it earned the inveterate grudge of the [North] Korean nation by acting as a war servant for the US in 1950.”
North Korea demanded the council immediately dismantle the US-led UN Command based in Seoul and move to end the state of war on the Korean Peninsula.
Tensions have escalated following a rocket launch by Pyongyang in December last year and its third nuclear test on Feb. 12. Both acts defied three council resolutions.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the proposed resolution would impose some of the strongest sanctions ever ordered by the UN.