North Korean president Kim Jun Un instructed his soldiers to "strike first" today if they come under attack. This latest threat comes after the United Nations Security Council imposed new, tougher sanctions on the isolated communist country.
This inflammatory rhetoric is part of an increasingly dangerous situation on the Korean peninsula. First, North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Feb 11. In retaliation, new, stronger sanctions were proposed by the United Nations just as American and South Korean troops are conducting military exercises.
Before that UN sanctions vote, North Korea on Thursday threatened the United States with preemptive nuclear attack. An unidentified foreign ministry spokesman, reading a prepared statement on state-run television said "Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to a preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest."
In a staged mass rally in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, Army Gen. Kang Pyo Yong told the crowd that North Korea is ready to fire long-range nuclear-armed missiles at Washington.
"Intercontinental ballistic missiles and various other missiles, which have already set their striking targets, are now armed with lighter, smaller and diversified nuclear warheads and are placed on a standby status," Kang said. "When we shell Washington, which is the stronghold of evils, .... will be engulfed in a sea of fire."
The U.N. sanctions were drafted by the U.S. and China, North Korea's closest ally and were passed unanimously by the 15 nations of the Security Council.
“Our warnings were not heeded,” said Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the Security Council President. “Now the choice is for the DPRK to make,” he said, referring to the country by its official title, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Now other interested parties must behave responsibly,” he added (http://bloom.bg/Wx3U4W).
China's support to these sanctions are significant. North Korea has traditionally been able to rely on China as a counter-weight to South Korea's relationship with the United States. China seems to be changing its mind towards blindly supporting their fellow communist neighbor.
On Feb 27, Deng Yuwen, deputy editor of Study Times, the journal of the Central Party School of China’s Communist Party wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Times in which he signaled China's growing impatience with North Korea.
“China should consider abandoning North Korea,” Deng wrote. A nuclear-armed North Korea might put China on the losing side of any confrontation on the Korean peninsula, and North Korea’s ruling elite simply won’t let the regime reform, he added. “Beijing should give up on Pyongyang and press for the reunification of the Korean peninsula" (http://bloom.bg/Wx3U4W).
This move by China may put Kim Jun Un in a precarious"use it or lose it" position. Faced with a perceived abandonment by his closest ally, tougher U.N sanctions that are sure to hurt North Korea's already near non-existent economy, he may feel he either has to reform or take drastic action.
North Korea has conducted successful nuclear test in 2006 and 2009 and has been trying to develop long-range rockets capable of reaching the U.S. But, it is not believed that they have the ability to make the warheads small enough to fit into the rockets.
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