The Pentagon announced that it had sent an advanced ballistic missile defence system toÂ its Pacific territory, as North Korea ramped up its bellicose rhetoric saying that it has given final approval for a nuclear attack on the US.
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army revealed that it formally informed Washington that US threats would be “smashed by… cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means”.
“The merciless operation of (our) revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified,” the statement, carried by the state news agency and reported by South Korean news agency Yonhap, claimed.
The Korean statement came as US defence secretary Chuck Hagel warned of a “real and clear” danger from North Korea.
â€śSome of the actions theyâ€™ve taken over the last few weeks, present a real and clear danger,â€ť Mr Hagel told an audience at the National Defense University in Washington.
He said those actions had threatened the interests of South Korea and Japan, but he also cited their direct threats against Guam, an American territory in the Pacific, Hawaii and West Coast of the United States.
“The assumption remains that this is more bluster …,” confirmed Rob Ryan, a strategist with RBS in Singapore. “But from here, we’ve reached a level of tensions that say things can’t get too much worse without an actual exchange of fire.”
Shortly after Mr Hagel’s announcement, the Pentagon unveiled its plans to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), which includes a truck-mounted launcher, interceptor missiles, an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar and an integrated fire control system, The Telegraph reports.
â€śThe United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and stands ready to defend U.S. territory, our allies, and our national interests,â€ť a Pentagon spokesperson said.
The White House also warned the North to stop making threats.
“We’ve seen today’s statement by North Korea, again making unhelpful and unconstructive threats,” said National Security Council spokesman Caitlin Hayden.
“It is yet another offering in a long line of provocative statements that only serve to further isolate North Korea from the rest of the international community and undermine its goal of economic development. ”
He added: “North Korea should stop its provocative threats and instead concentrate on abiding by its international obligations.”
The news comes a few days after North Korea unveiled its plans to restart a mothballed nuclear reactor, capable of producing bomb-grade plutonium, in what the White House said was a violation of international agreements.
France, meanwhile, called on China to set it authority in North Korea. Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign minister, mentioned that China had “power over North Korea” and that he would travel to Beijing next week to discuss his suggestion.
However, senior American officials seem to be relaxed about the growing tensions, predicting that North Korea will back down after this year’s military exercises conclude.
“The North Koreans want the international community to feed their people, fuel their factories and fill their bank accounts,” one official told reporters. “If North Korea were a self-sufficient enterprise, we would have a much bigger problem on our hands.”