SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — North Korea stirred up fresh unease in Northeast Asia early Thursday, threatening attacks by a “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear force and warning, “The moment of explosion is approaching fast.”
The new threat came after the North Koreans locked South Korean workers out of a joint factory complex and announced plans to restart a nuclear reactor it shut down five years ago.
Meanwhile, the United States announced it was sending ballistic missile defenses to Guam, a Pacific territory that’s home to U.S. naval and air bases.
“The moment of explosion is approaching fast. No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow,” North Korea’s state news agency KCNA declared in its latest broadside. “The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK’s sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic.”
DPRK is short for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name for North Korea.
The fiery North Korean rhetoric, fueled by recent U.N. sanctions over its latest nuclear test, has created a tense atmosphere on the Korean Peninsula just as the United States and South Korea are engaged in joint military exercises in South Korean territory.
Pyongyang’s threat last month of a possible pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States and South Korea caused particular alarm, despite heavy skepticism from analysts and U.S. officials that the North Korean military is anywhere near capable of carrying out such an attack.
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