(CNSNews.com) – As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to chair a special U.N. Security Council session Friday on the North Korean nuclear threat, Kim Jong-un’s regime accused the administration of risking “lighting the fuse of a total war” and repeated its threat of a nuclear response to any U.S. military action.
“As the U.S. has unsheathed a dagger to stifle the DPRK at any cost, the DPRK will stand against it with a sword of justice and cut the windpipe of the U.S. imperialists by dint of the strong revolutionary forces with the nuclear force, an almighty treasured sword, as their pivot,” the KCNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.
DPRK is an acronym for the state’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The sword references may have been a response to Vice-President Mike Pence’s comments directed at North Korea, in a speech onboard a U.S. aircraft carrier in Japan last week, that the U.S. would seek peace but “the sword stands ready.”
Friday’s Security Council meeting caps a week of North Korea-focused activity at the White House.
President Trump addressed the issue when he hosted Security Council ambassadors for a working lunch on Monday, and two days later the full complement of U.S. senators were hosted for a briefing on the subject.
In a statement after the closed-door briefing, Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats called North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority.”
The administration was engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on Pyongyang to de-escalate tensions and return to dialogue, they said.
The U.S. remains open to negotiation to achieve the goal of peaceful denuclearization, but “we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies.”
The North Korean foreign ministry spokesman described the U.S. attempt to ratchet up pressure on the regime “a risky act little short of lighting the fuse of a total war under the present touch-and-go situation on the Korean peninsula.”
“There is a saying that those who are fond of playing with fire are destined to perish in the flames,” the spokesman concluded. “The same can be said of the U.S.”
In a separate KCNA commentary, the regime mouthpiece said the Trump administration with its threats of “maximum pressure” was misjudging the North Korean army and people.
Such threats, it said, “may work on others but can never work on socialist Korea in which the army and people, single-mindedly united around the headquarters of the revolution and socialism, have formed a destiny-sharing community to remain true to the leadership of the great party.”
“Barbarous” U.S. sanctions imposed against North Korea in recent years had all been foiled, it said, and “it was socialist Korea which won a victory after victory.”
KCNA said North Korea’s army and people will respond to U.S. aggression with “a nuclear war with Korean-style nuclear strikes.”
‘Stand up to North Korea’
Friday’s meeting at the Security Council will be flanked by meetings between Tillerson and counterparts including those from China – North Korea’s traditional ally and key trading partner – Japan, South Korea and Britain.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday Tillerson aims to build “a sense that the global community as a whole needs to stand up to North Korea and needs to apply pressure.”
He could not predict what would come out of the session, “but of course they’ll be talking about possible next steps.”
Asked about ways of imposing further diplomatic pressure on an already relatively isolated regime, Toner pointed to the possibility of targeting its membership in international organizations, and for countries with a diplomatic presence in Pyongyang to review whether that presence is merited.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents in a new Fox News poll of registered American voters said that North Korea poses the “greatest immediate threat” to the U.S. – more than those who identified ISIS (25 percent), Russia (18), China (5) or Iran (4) as the biggest threat.
Asked whether they oppose or support U.S. military action to stop North Korea developing its nuclear weapons program further, 53 percent of respondents said they would support such action, compared to 39 percent who would oppose it.