North Korea threatens nuclear strike on 'heart of US'
Pyongyang issues statement amid speculation of new missile launch
News Service26 JULY 2017, 04:54AA
North Korean military threatened Wednesday to "launch a nuclear attack on America's heart" as Pyongyang gears up to mark 64 years since the Korean War armistice.
Local media reports are anticipating another major North Korean provocation in line with Thursday's anniversary of the cease-fire agreement.
The North's latest verbal threat came from Armed Forces Minister Pak Yong-sik, with Pyongyang so far refusing to accept South Korea's recent offer of talks due to Seoul's ongoing military partnership with the United States -- which dates back to the Korean War.
"If enemies misunderstand our strategic status and stick to options of staging a pre-emptive nuclear attack against us, we will launch a nuclear attack on America's heart as the most relentless punishment without warning or prior notice," Pak said in a meeting, according to North Korea's official KCNA news agency.
Pyongyang made an apparent breakthrough in its weapons technology earlier this month when the authoritarian regime claimed to have successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.
The United Nations Security Council is still mulling whether and how to impose further sanctions in response to the July 4 ICBM test.
But South Korea remains keen on talks with its northern neighbor. Since President Moon Jae-in was inaugurated in May, he has been pushing for inter-Korean cooperation as a way of reducing tensions.
The Koreas may have ended their conflict in 1953, but they are yet to formally agree a peace treaty.