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JH Ahn was an NK News contributor based in Seoul. He previously worked as an interpreter for United States Forces Korea.
Pyongyang will “hit the U.S. first” with nuclear arms should Washington show any signs of launching pre-emptive strikes, North Korea said on Tuesday, two days after the U.S. decided to deploy the Carl Vinson Strike Group towards the Korean Peninsula.
Published four days after U.S. cruise missile strikes against Syria, the North Korean editorial said the American continent is within range of its nuclear weapons, warning that “pre-emptive strike is not an exclusive right of the U.S.”
“South Korea, U.S. military bases in the Pacific Ocean and even the U.S. mainland; our military is keeping an eye on the movement of enemy forces while putting them in our nuclear-sight,” the editorial, published in ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun, said.
“Should the U.S. lose rationality and make the slightest movement to conduct pre-emptive strikes against us, our mighty nuclear weapons will obliterate the strongholds of invasion and provocation.”
According to the editorial, a possible U.S. attack on the North may take place as the current Trump Administration is “having a headache over the failed anti-DPRK policies (of the past),” and is hoping to carry out pre-emptive strikes instead.
“The U.S. must realize that… the pre-emptive strike is not an exclusive right to the U.S.”
The Tuesday editorial comes a day after a spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry said the U.S. would be entirely responsible for the “catastrophic consequences,” it may cause if it decides to attack the North.
“We never beg for peace, but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs to defend ourselves by the powerful force of arms,” the DPRK spokesperson said, criticizing The Carl Vinson Strike Group’s deployment to the Korean Peninsula.
Neither of the North Korean statements from Monday or Tuesday made mention of the recent U.S. strikes against Syria’s Shayrat airbase.
But last week, a day after the U.S. strikes, a spokesperson from the DPRK’s Foreign Ministry criticized Trump’s action as being “no different” from past U.S. administrations, which have “swung its fists” at those who were “not armed with any proper nuclear arms.”
“Some parts of the world blabbered that the U.S.’s recent military attack against Syria was the ‘warning’ against us, but we are not frightened at all,” the spokesperson said.
“This Syrian incident once again showed that… only power can stand against the other powers, and proves that our choice of vigorously enhancing our nuclear arms was the right one after all.”
While tension does appear to be rising on the Korean Peninsula, a former intelligence secretary to President Lee Myung-bak argued the chances of U.S. strikes against the DPRK are very low.
“The situation is different. First, the U.S. already has the experience of striking Syria. Second, the recent attack was caused by Assad’s murder of innocent children and women using chemical gas, something that stirred public anger around the world,” Dr. Cha Du-hyeogn told NK News.
“That served as the justification for the Trump Administration to hit Syria. But most of all, both Obama and Trump knew that Syria was not capable of attacking the U.S. back.”
Syria does not have nuclear weapons, Dr. Cha added – unlike North Korea.
“Assad’s retaliation against the U.S. would force Russia cut support to the government, which would end Assad. On the other hand, China might have the power to collapse the DPRK – by completely shutting off its support – but it’s not like Kim Jong Un listens to Xi Jinping as Assad does to Putin.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: KCNA