News / Asia

N. Korea Threatens 'Pre-Emptive Nuclear Attack'

North Korea missile ranges
North Korea missile ranges
For the first time, North Korea is threatening to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike.  This is the latest in an increasing series of bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang in recent days.

The threat, attributed to a spokesman from North Korea's foreign ministry, was carried by the country's central news agency and also broadcast Thursday.

The ministry spokesman is quoted as saying that because "the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, our revolutionary armed forces will be exercising our right to pre-emptive nuclear attack against the strongholds of invaders in order to protect our supreme interest.”

North Korean Nuclear Tests

  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Powered by plutonium
  • Released radioactive materials

  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Seismic signals were consistent with a nuclear test
  • Radioactive material was not detected

  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Seismic signals were consistent with a nuclear test
  • Estimated to be more powerful than devices tested earlier
Earlier in the week, a four-star general went on television to announce North Korea next Monday would abrogate the 1953 armistice, which halted the three-year devastating Korean civil war.

​North Korea has made no secret it is incensed about fresh sanctions against it by the U.N. Security Council.  It is also expressing strong displeasure with annual military drills under way involving American and South Korean forces.

The North claims the joint exercises are a pretext to a nuclear attack by the United States.

The commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, General James Thurman, issued a statement expressing concern about Pyongyang's threat to cancel the cease-fire agreement.  He noted [that] as leader of the U.N. Command on the peninsula he is "charged to fully enforce the conditions of the armistice."

The cease-fire document was signed by military commanders from China and North Korea on one side and the U.S.-led U.N. Command on behalf of the international community.  South Korea was not a signatory.

The two Koreas have since remain divided, no peace treaty was ever written and thus Seoul and Pyongyang never established diplomatic relations.

The United States maintains more than 28,000 military personnel in South Korea.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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Comment Sorting
by: Sham from: USA
March 07, 2013 11:53 AM
The Rockefeller family will LOVE to go into this war, so they can profit from the American public by borrowing money with INTEREST from their FRAUDULENT, EVIL, PRIVATE, organization they call the "Federal Reserve Bank".

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 07, 2013 11:24 AM
I hope the US and allies are going through their defensive drills and civil defense drills, especially at bases in areas under the range of NKorean fielded missile systems.
The escalation in the war of wars between N/S Korea, is not healthy. If SKorea wants to push it to the next level, then it should pick the time and place, having the element of surprise on its side; in any case word escalation is absolutely not constructive; all it does is push NKorea into a corner. US and Allies need to calm its ally, irrespective what the intentions are.

by: Lei from: China
March 07, 2013 11:17 AM
China and russia obviously don't N.K. nuclear test and cancel cease-fire document, so this sanction can be passed on U.N.

by: NVO from: USA
March 07, 2013 9:36 AM
All their so-called rocket attempts have been FAILURES. They cannot even get anything into the air. What a joke. Just another ploy by the Federal Reserve Bank to send us to war. Wake up, world. The Fed wants us in war so we borrow more money at INTEREST for their profit.

by: Michael from: USA
March 07, 2013 8:08 AM
New sanctions are strong but aren't meant to provoke such strong responses. The threats are timed with United Nation votes and the level of poverty increases with new sanctions, so the votes are deliberate because the U.N knows that provocation acts to open the isolated N Korea. Those who think sanctions will stop all nuclear tests are few. The USA will rightly bring these facts to the U.N since this might help to open N Korea in a different way (other than provocation)

by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
March 07, 2013 6:22 AM
when such things,the world obviously expects something positive from russia and china..and if not,then its china and russia who are hoping that israel actually got to be removed from the map by like minded people in iran and north korea.


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