The government of North Korea is using its official media outlets to attempt to threaten South Korea and the United States out of performing scheduled joint military exercises this week, vowing a “pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice” should Pyongyang feel sufficiently threatened by the exercises.
“The indiscriminate nuclear strike … will clearly show those keen on aggression and war, the military mettle of (North Korea),” a statement run through the communist government’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) read. The statement vowed “indiscriminate” nuclear attacks on both South Korea and the United States: “If we push the buttons to annihilate the enemies even right now, all bases of provocations will be reduced to seas in flames and ashes in a moment.”
The statement is one of a series of outrageous articles in KCNA and the state newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, condemning the United States and South Korea. After publishing an article last week citing “zoologists” stating that South Korean President Park Geun-hye is an “ugly female bat,” the Rodong Sinmun is now calling Park a “die-hard pro-American parrot.” The article claims, “She obeys the Yankees, the sworn enemy of the Korean people, but spouts vituperations and violent remarks full of jealousy, hostility and confrontation with the fellow countrymen in the north.”
In a separate piece condemning the joint military exercises, the KCNA accuses South Korea and the United States of “violat[ing] the sovereignty of the DPRK,” threatening violence once again. The article claims:
The DPRK did not make an empty talk when it said its measures for all-out counteraction include strong physical counteraction now that do-or-die battle of justice has begun to deal sledge-hammer blows at the aggressors and provokers seized with hysteria for a nuclear war and to defend the sovereignty and the right to existence of the DPRK.”
The military exercises, named Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, are the largest in the history of South Korean-American cooperation. They began on Monday and are expected to involve 17,000 American troops and about 300,000 South Korean servicemen and women. The exercise boasts the largest ever number of American troops involved, in addition to involving a “nuclear-powered submarine, aerial tanker aircraft and reportedly the B-2 stealth bomber,” according to South Korean newswire service Yonhap.
The exercises will prepare the soldiers to confront a fictional situation in which the communist Kim Jong-un regime in Pyongyang has collapsed on itself, and North Korea has no official government. It will simulate an invasion of North Korea to restore stability.
In response to the announcement of these exercises, Kim had already ordered North Korea’s nuclear arsenal to be “on standby” for deployment. “Now is the time for us to convert our mode of military counteraction toward the enemies into an preemptive attack one in every aspect,” Kim reportedly said last week. While South Korea and the United States regularly conduct joint military exercises, the scope of this particular set of simulations is believed to have been triggered by a string of belligerent actions by the Kim regime, beginning with the announcement of a nuclear detonation in January. The North Korean government alleged that it had detonated a hydrogen bomb, though a number of nuclear experts suggested that the blast was too small to be a fusion bomb, positing that, instead, it could have been a weaker hybrid nuclear detonation.
Shortly after the nuclear blast, North Korea launched a “satellite” into space using a rocket that many suggested could be weaponized. There is no evidence the satellite is sending any information back to earth from its orbit, though this did not stop Kim from celebrating publicly and calling for more rocket launches in the near future.