US warns North Korea against escalating nuclear threats
The White House announced on Saturday that it is taking North Korea’s latest round of saber-rattling seriously whilst assuring their South Korean allies that America’s hegemony in the region will not waiver.
Following recent escalation of rhetoric that was broadcast on North Korean state television this week, further tension has been placed upon the unsteady armistice that was signed between North and South Korea in 1953.
North Korea warned of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on US military bases in the Asia-Pacific region such as South Korea, Guam and Hawaii as well as the North American mainland. Declaring “the time has come to settle accounts with the US imperialists” and that “From this time on, the North-South relations will be entering the state of war”, North Korea’s broadcast made their intentions very clear.
The latest strain on North-South relations comes at a time when Pyongyang has continually escalated its rhetoric in response to the sanctions imposed after its third nuclear test that was carried out in February of this year. Alongside this, the US military and South Korean forces have recently conducted annual, large-scale joint military exercises in the region.
Many scholars such as Andrea Berger of the Royal Services Institute have exclaimed that “Pyongyang has loudly objected to joint maneuvers for decades” and it shouldn’t be too surprising that these latest exercises have angered Pyongyang, who may see it as a cover for an invasion or a test of its new leader’s resolve.
In response, Caitlin Hayden, the White House spokeswoman for the National Security Council, has said, “We take these threats seriously and remain in close contact with our South Korean allies.”
In recent days, both Russian and Chinese diplomats have called for all sides to ease tensions since two nuclear-strike-capable B-2 stealth bombers flew over the Korean peninsula in a move Pyongyang labeled a “reckless phase”.