U.S. readies for 'real and clear danger' from North Korea
North Korea has threatened the United States with a nuclear attack. In response, Washington has made plans to send a missile defense system to Guam, officials said Wednesday.
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Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, criticised the latest North Korean statement.Skip to next paragraph
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"It is yet another offering in a long line of provocative statements that only serve to further isolate North Korea from the rest of the international community and undermine its goal of economic development," Hayden said.
North Korea had "ratified" a merciless attack against the United States, potentially involving a "diversified nuclear strike", the KCNA statement concluded after railing against annual war games between South Korea and the United States that run throughout April.
"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," the KCNA statement said.
Hagel: Must take threats seriously
Hagel said he had to take the threats seriously, language he has used in recent weeks as the United States has revamped its missile defense plans and positioned two guided-missile destroyers in the western Pacific to bolster missile defense.
The United States has also flexed its muscle during the military drills with South Korea, flying two radar-evading stealth bombers on a first-of-its-kind practice bombing run over South Korea.
In the latest move, the Pentagon said it was deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to Guam in the coming weeks. The THAAD system includes a truck-mounted launcher, interceptor missiles and an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar.
Last month, Hagel said the Pentagon would add 14 new anti-missile interceptors in Alaska and move ahead with the deployment of a second missile-defense radar in Japan.
Adding to tensions, North Korea on Wednesday closed access to a joint factory zone with South Korea, putting at risk $2 billion a year in trade that is vital to the impoverished state.
It said on Tuesday it would revive a mothballed nuclear reactor able to produce bomb-grade plutonium.
Hagel called America's responses so far "measured, responsible, serious" and also said the United States was working with allies to lower tensions.
"We are doing everything we can, working with the Chinese, others to defuse that situation on the peninsula," he said.
It was a sign that China, the North's major benefactor, was increasingly worried about events spinning out of control.
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