N. Korea approves nuclear strike on United States

SEOUL — North Korea dramatically escalated its warlike rhetoric on
Thursday, warning that it had authorised plans for nuclear strikes on
targets in the United States."The moment of explosion is
approaching fast," the North Korean military said, warning that war
could break out "today or tomorrow".Pyongyang's latest
pronouncement came as Washington scrambled to reinforce its Pacific
missile defences, preparing to send ground-based interceptors to Guam
and dispatching two Aegis class destroyers to the region.Tension
was also high on the North's heavily-fortified border with South Korea,
after Kim Jong-Un's isolated regime barred South Koreans from entering a
Seoul-funded joint industrial park on its side of the frontier.In
a statement published by the state KCNA news agency, the Korean
People's Army general staff warned Washington that US threats would be
"smashed by... cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear
strike means"."The merciless operation of our revolutionary armed
forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified," the
statement said.Last month, North Korea threatened a "pre-emptive"
nuclear strike against the United States, and last week its supreme
army command ordered strategic rocket units to combat status.But,
while Pyongyang has successfully carried out test nuclear detonations,
most experts think it is not yet capable of mounting a device on a
ballistic missile capable of striking US bases or territory.Mounting
tension in the region could however trigger incidents on the tense and
heavily-militarised border between North and South Korea.There
was no immediate American reaction to the North's latest statement, but
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Pyongyang represented a "real and
clear danger" to the United States and to its allies South Korea and
Japan."They have nuclear capacity now, they have missile delivery
capacity now," Hagel said after a strategy speech at the National
Defense University. "We take those threats seriously, we have to take
those threats seriously.""We are doing everything we can, working
with the Chinese and others, to defuse that situation on the peninsula.
I hope the North will ratchet its very dangerous rhetoric down," he
said.The Pentagon said it would send ground-based THAAD
interceptor batteries to protect US bases on the island of Guam,
complementing two Aegis anti-missile destroyers already dispatched to
the region.The THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) is a
truck-mounted system that can pinpoint an enemy missile launch, track
the projectile and launch an interceptor to bring it down.

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