(CNN)North Korea went on the offensive Friday, blasting the US for “aggression” in Asia, blaming Washington for its pursuit of nuclear weapons and threatening the US with “tremendous consequences beyond imagination.”
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “had no other choice but to go nuclear,” Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the UN General Assembly, to defend itself “from the constant nuclear threats from the United States.”
Ri’s comments came as the US and Asian nations gathered in New York Friday with a fresh reminder of what they consider the gravest threat facing the region: North Korea’s announcement this week that it had successfully tested its most powerful rocket engine yet.
The test Tuesday was followed by a US show of force, as the Pentagon on Wednesday flew two B-1B bombers alongside the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, setting the the stage for US-South Korea joint military exercises in October that will include a simulated nuclear facility strike.
China signed on for the March sanctions, but its officials have repeatedly said they believe sanctions are counterproductive and experts say China historically hasn’t thoroughly enforced them against North Korea. US tensions with China over the South China Sea could make it harder to cooperate.
Dunford said Wednesday that “China seeks to limit our ability to project power and to undermine the credibility of our alliances in the Pacific.”
The US can take additional unilateral steps to get tougher on Pyongyang, Klingner said, by sanctioning non-North Korean entities that act as an agent for the country — most likely Chinese entities and financial institutions.
In the meantime, US military officials are planning.
From October 3 to 21, the US and South Korea will carry out the joint exercise “Red Flag” in Alaska, which will include an aerial exercise “simulating attacks on nuclear facilities and scenarios of sudden missile attack,” a ministry spokesperson with the South Korean Defense Department told CNN.
North Korea derided South Korea as a “puppet warmongers” in a statement about the Red Flag exercises.
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