SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea boasted of being a “proud nuclear power” and threatened today to harm the U.S. if attacked as tensions mounted over a possible crackdown on exports of suspected missile parts from the North.
President Barack Obama said the U.S. is ready to cope with “any contingencies” involving North Korea and vowed not to “reward belligerence and provocation.”
South Korea’s YTN news network reported Sunday that a U.S. Navy destroyer tailing a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missiles and related parts was headed toward Myanmar in what could be the first test of new U.N. sanctions against the North over its recent nuclear test.
The sanctions – punishment for an underground nuclear test May 25 – firm up an earlier arms embargo against North Korea and authorize ship searches in an attempt to thwart the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions.
Today, North Korea’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper called it “nonsense” to say the country is a threat to the U.S., and instead claimed Washington was the one threatening the North. The paper also warned in a commentary that the country is prepared to strike back if attacked.
The Rodong Sinmun also denounced Obama’s recent pledge to defend and protect South Korea.
Obama said the U.S. is prepared for any North Korean provocation, including the regime’s reported threat to test-launch a long-range missile toward Hawaii.
Japanese media have reported that the North Koreans appear to be preparing for a long-range test planned sometime around July 4. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered additional protections for Hawaii as a precaution.