North Korea have raised the nuclear threat level this week after it emerged that Kim Jong-un has ordered that his country’s nuclear weapons should be ready for use “at any time,” but the threat has left the White House undisturbed after they dismissed North Korea’s actions as “nothing new.”
The threat emerged as North Korea’s president made a rare direct attack on South Korea’s Park Geun-hye. It is usually the North Korean media that engages in attacks on South Korea. In the past, they have called Guen-hye a “devil, not a woman” and accused her of being a “devil living in a cave.” However, Kim Jong-un himself usually does not make such remarks, as the ruling parties in Pyongyang seek to distance themselves from their opposition in Seoul.
This week, the rhetoric reached new heights as Kim Jong-un issued threats to “end” the South Korean president.
In what the Daily Mail described as one of Kim’s most outspoken outbursts, the dictator said, “In order to prevent future leaders from silly behavior like Park’s, it is necessary to clearly show the end of Park.”
Kim then linked the attack to North Korea’s recent nuclear tests when he continued, “Park should be considerate and behave reasonably, ceasing her rash behavior toward our nuclear armament.”
Kim Jong-un also ordered his army to ready their nuclear weapons for use at any time, saying “the need to get nuclear warheads deployed for national defense always on standby so as to be fired any moment,” according to Korean Central News Agency. The threat was issued in response to the U.S. and UN putting new sanctions in place against North Korea after they tested six short-range missiles on Thursday morning. The tests were considered to be successful by the North Korean military and may well have served to embolden the despotic leader. The increase in rhetoric has been handled calmly by leaders in Seoul.
The United States have long been allies of South Korea, a partnership that goes back to before the Korean War, which saw the north and south separated. Now, the White House has been quick to dismiss the threat posed by North Korea’s rhetoric.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “The kind of comments and provocative actions that we’ve seen out of Pyongyang in the last 36 hours or so are not new. And we continue to urge the North Korean regime to refrain from provocative actions and statements that tend to aggravate tensions.”
The tests, which saw the most recent escalation, are only the most recent in a string of weapons tests that have been conducted by North Korea. This is coupled with four nuclear tests conducted over the last decade. The first test occurred on October 9, 2006, and experts believe it was a “fizzle,” a nuclear test which significantly fails to meet the expected results. The most recent of the four tests was conducted on January 6 this year, and North Korea claimed it was a successful detonation of a hydrogen bomb.
Scientific and military experts do not agree on whether North Korea has yet managed to develop nuclear-tipped missiles, although the Pentagon does believe that they have the potential to build such devices that could conceivably endanger the U.S. They are commonly believed to have around a dozen smaller nuclear weapons.
Despite dismissing the threat from North Korea this week, the U.S. announced that it would be increasing the naval presence in the South China Sea to enable them to keep more of an eye on North Korea. They are also in talks with South Korea about building a shield of defensive missiles to defend them against any attacks from North Korea.
The increased rhetoric of nuclear aggression from North Korea may have been dismissed by the White House, but it seems they are taking the potential threat very seriously.
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