North Korea is not happy about the new set of sanctions imposed upon it by the United Nations on Thursday. In a unanimous vote, the Security Council jacked up its restrictions on banking, trade, and travel with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in an obvious gesture of disapproval after the rogue nation's nuclear test last month. The UN was not gentle either. "Taken together, these sanctions will bite and bite hard," said UN ambassador Susan Rice,
Well, Kim Jong-un wants the world to know he's ready to bite back. North Korea released a statement that was even more aggressive than usual: "First, now that the U.S. is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country."
The statement reiterates that point: "Should the U.S. ignite a war in the end, it will cause flames of justice to flare up like an erupting volcano in which the aggressors will perish and the cursed Military Demarcation Line disappear for good.
Before you go getting all caught up in phrases like "aggressors will perish" and "preemptive nuclear attack" and get all worked up, remember who you're talking to here. This is the guy who was shooting hoops with Dennis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters about a week ago. Is he really ready to send an atom bomb towards Rodman's homeland this week?
Furthermore, as many have pointed out, even if the North Koreans had a nuclear weapon with our name on it, they wouldn't be able to get it here because they don't have the missiles for it. Sure, they're getting closer. The rocket launched last December was capable of flying some 6,000 miles and might be able to make it to San Francisco. But that's a long shot. And even if a missile from North Korea reached the US, the White House says it is more than confident our anti-ballistic missile systems would be able to defend us.
The rockets can reach other targets like Seoul, but experts say such an act of aggression is unlikely. Then again, the rocket might blow up minutes after takeoff like the missile test before that and a few before than too. This kind of threat, similarly, has been made in the past, though not so directly. If history serves as a guide, Pyongyang might make some show of muscle–another nuclear test perhaps. And the rest of the world will crank up the sanctions, and then it's time for another threatening press release.
That doesn't mean the narrative is something to be ignored. The US government doesn't know exactly what's going on in Pyongyang and environs. Just last year did the Western media earn the privilege of setting up a bureau in the country, and any news the reporters heard had already been filtered a million times by the regime. It's possible that North Korea has better rockets that they're keeping secret. Those underground nuclear tests did appear to be pretty successful. Kim Jong Un is a little eccentric — maybe he's one of those violent eccentric types.
You can't get carried away with the hypotheticals, though. Don't tell yourself–and certainly don't let any Internet message boards tell you–that North Korea has a secret supply of nuclear missiles or a shadow army of highly trained ninjas or something. That's unfounded silly talk. The most likely scenario is that tensions with North Korea will continue their ebb and flow like they have for decades. And even if North Korea did have a secret army of ninjas, our Team 6 boys would be roaring into Pyongyang on hovercrafts, and they're not scared of nunchucks one bit.
Image via VICE