North Korea says it is prepared to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States if need be.
‘A preemptive nuclear strike is not something the US has a monopoly on. If we see that the U.S. would do it to us, we would do it first. … We have the technology,’ Lee Yong Pil, a top North Korean official, told NBC News in an exclusive.
The threat comes a day after a failed mid-range Musudan missile launch by North Korea.
US military first reported the launch was attempted at 11.33 pm EDT Friday (12.03 pm Saturday local time) and that the missile didn’t pose a threat to North America. South Koreans are pictured watching a news broadcast after the failed missile launch
Lee Yong Pil, a top North Korean official, told NBC the country was prepared to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the US
This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 23, 2016 shows a test launch of the surface-to-surface medium long-range strategic ballistic missile Hwasong-10 at an undisclosed location in North Korea.
Lee said North Korea is rankled because the US is targeting the country with nuclear weapons and believes military exercises the country held on North Korea’s borders over the summer were aimed at removing Kim Jong Un.
‘The US has nuclear weapons off our coast, targeting our country, our capital and our Dear Leader, Kim Jong Un,’ he said, according to the outlet. ‘We will not step back as long as there’s a nuclear threat to us from the United States.’
South Koreans watch a television news broadcast at a station in Seoul – according to media reports, North Korea had a failed ballistic missile launch the day before
A ground deployment type ground-to-air guided missiles Patriot PAC 3 is seen in position at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo on September 12, 2016 in preparation of a ballistic missile launch by North Korea
Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN, said on NBC News of the fighting words: ‘We need to ramp up the pressure. Because this isn’t just a threat to the United States or the Republic of Korea, this is a threat to mankind.’
American officials don’t believe the country has nuclear weapons with the capacity to reach the United States.
Under Kim Jong Un, who took power in 2011, the country has carried out its fourth and fifth nuclear tests this year.
This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 13, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting a farm
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Lee said the country would not hesitate to carrying out ‘a sixth, seventh, or an eighth’ nuclear test.
Lee said the stance is driven by the US and South Korea becoming ‘increasingly aggressive’ with off-the-coast drills.
Lee said additional sanctions would not stop the country.
‘We have to have nuclear weapons to protect our country, and it’s our policy to go nuclear,’ he said.
NBC News said another official told the outlet that the country does indeed have the capability of reaching the US with a long range rocket and that the Pentagon is lying if it says the country doesn’t.
The country also bragged it has rockets that it has launched to carry satellites into space, and one day they will reach other planets.
US scientists disagree and believe North Korea has not yet launched any satellites into space.
The US and South Korea said Sunday that the latest missile launch by North Korea ended in a failure after the projectile exploded soon after liftoff on Friday.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the military believes the North unsuccessfully attempted to fire a mid-range Musudan missile.
It said the failed launch was made near an airport in the North’s North Pyongan province.
South Korea strongly condemns the launch because it violates U.N. Security Council resolutions that bans any ballistic activities by North Korea, the statement said.
It’s the latest in a series of moves by North Korea aimed apparently at displaying a show of force.
As recently as last month, it fired three ballistic missiles off its east coast, timed to get the attention of world leaders including President Barack Obama who were visiting the region for a series of summits.
The U.N. Security Council subsequently condemned those North Korean launches and threatened ‘further significant measures’ if it refused to stop its nuclear and missile tests.
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From NBC News
North Korea Warns It Would Use Nuclear Weapons First If Threatened
PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea has warned that it may carry out further nuclear tests and says it is prepared to launch a preemptive strike on the United States if U.S. nuclear forces mobilize against it.
“The U.S. has nuclear weapons off our coast, targeting our country, our capital and our Dear Leader, Kim Jong Un,” a top North Korean official, Lee Yong Pil, said in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
“We will not step back as long as there’s a nuclear threat to us from the United States,” added Lee, who is director of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for American Studies.
“A preemptive nuclear strike is not something the U.S. has a monopoly on,” he said. “If we see that the U.S. would do it to us, we would do it first. … We have the technology.”
Such threats have been a staple of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un since he took power after his father’s death in 2011. U.S. officials do not believe Pyongyang possesses weapons able to reach the continental United States.
Lee also warned that North Korea may carry out “a sixth, a seventh or an eighth” nuclear test.
Lee said his government’s stance was being driven by “the increasingly aggressive” drills by the United States and the South.
The comments came as Washington and Seoul conducted joint naval exercises off the Korean peninsula. The South Korean military told the country’s Yonhap news agency that one of the drills scheduled to end later this month involved targeting the North’s nuclear facilities.
For its part, North Korea has accelerated its nuclear program, carrying out its fourth and fifth tests this year. The International Atomic Energy Agency called the moves “deeply troubling” and “regrettable.”
Putting the world on notice of another nuclear test would anger the international community, most of which is already considering further sanctions against the reclusive nation for its activity so far.
Lee said neither sanctions from the United Nations nor U.S. pressure would stop North Korea’s building its arsenal.
“We have to have nuclear weapons to protect our country, and it’s our policy to go nuclear,” he added.
Another North Korean official told NBC News that the reclusive nation already has the capability to reach the U.S. mainland with a rocket. Hwang Yongnam, who is authorized to speak about the country’s missile program, said the Pentagon is lying when it says the North cannot yet reach the continental United States with a weapon.
But it’s not just weapons the country’s interested in, according to Ri Won Hyok, a senior official involved in North Korea’s fledgling space program.
Ri said that Pyongyang is also launching rockets to carry satellites into space and that “in the future our goal is not just going to the moon, but to the other planets.”
He denied that the country’s rocket program has had help from Russia or Iran, claiming “it’s 100 percent our own.”
U.S. scientists believe that none of North Korea’s launches so far have included any fully functioning satellites.
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