North Korea has threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US, as the UN Security Council prepares to vote on tough new sanctions against Pyongyang. South Korea has placed its military on high alert.
Pyongyang stepped up its rhetoric against the US and South Korea on Thursday, claiming the right to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Washington, which it accused of preparing an atomic war.
"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," said a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.#video#
North Korea has been known to take part in such saber-rattling tactics in the past.
Meanwhile, South Korea puts it military on high alert, saying that North Korea was preparing for "massive" military exercises. The South Korean Defense Ministry said that it was prepared to deal with military provocations by Pyongyang.
On Tuesday, North Korea threatened to tear up its 1953 armistice treaty with South Korea, if Washington and Seoul went ahead with scheduled joint military exercises. The armistice treaty ended the 1950-1953 Korean War.
UN votes on tougher sanctions
North Korea's heightened military rhetoric comes just hours before the UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on a new, tougher round of sanctions against Pyongyang. The draft resolution would sanction North Korea for detonating a nuclear weapon on February 12, Pyongyang's third atomic test in less than a decade.
Washington's UN ambassador, Susan Rice, said that the new resolution would "take UN sanctions imposed on North Korea to the next level, breaking new ground and imposing significant new legal obligations."
China, an ally of North Korea, also signaled support for the resolution. Beijing's UN ambassador, Li Baodong, said "a strong signal must be sent out that the nuclear test is against the will of the international community."
The draft resolution would make inspections of North Korean cargo mandatory. It would also add three new individuals, a government science academy, and a trading company to a UN blacklist for travel bans and asset freezes.
slk/mz (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)