North Korea threatens nuclear strike, U.N. expands sanctions
By Jack Kim and Louis Charbonneau
SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - North Korea threatened the United States on Thursday with a preemptive nuclear strike, raising the level of rhetoric as the U.N. Security Council approved new sanctions against the reclusive country.
The White House said North Korea's threats would only lead to Pyongyang's further international isolation and declared that the United States was "fully capable" of defending against any North Korean missile attack.
China's U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong said Beijing wanted to see "full implementation" of the new Security Council resolution, which tightens financial restrictions on Pyongyang and cracks down on its attempts to ship and receive banned cargo.
North Korea has accused the United States of using military drills in South Korea as a launch pad for a nuclear war and has scrapped the armistice with Washington that ended hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War.
A North Korean general said on Tuesday that Pyongyang was scrapping the armistice. But the two sides remain technically at war as the civil war did not end with a treaty.
North Korea threatens the United States and its "puppet," South Korea, on an almost daily basis.
"Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest," the North's foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
North Korea conducted a third nuclear test on February 12, in defiance of U.N. resolutions, and declared it had achieved progress in securing a functioning atomic arsenal. It is widely believed that the North does not have the capacity for a nuclear strike against the mainland of the United States. Continued...