Although most of the world sees North Korea as the country whose government is responsible for threatening nuclear war, the totalitarian state's media is reporting that the United States is, in fact, the country planning to strike first.
"We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by... cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK," says a post on the Korean Central News Agency's website.
Evidence cited by the KCNA of the U.S. plotting a nuclear strike includes flights over South Korea by American aircraft and the stationing of ships near the Korean peninsula.
"B-52s based on Guam flew into the sky above South Korea all of a sudden to stage a drill under the simulated conditions of a nuclear strike at the DPRK," says the post, "and formations of F-22s took off from Japan proper and Okinawa and were deployed in the Osan air force base in South Korea to watch for a chance to make a surprise strike."
The KCNA also complained of the presence of U.S. Navy ships. "South Korea and waters around it are turning into places for display of various types of nuclear strike means of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces," according to the KCNA.
"[N]ever had the whole Korean Peninsula been exposed to such danger of a nuclear war as today," the post continues. "[T]he towering resentment of the DPRK's army and people has reached an irrepressible phase as they are all out in the all-out action to defend the sovereignty and prevent a nuclear war of the U.S."
It's unclear if the North Korean leadership actually believes that the U.S. is preparing to launch a nuclear strike.
Last month, former NBA star Dennis Rodman visited North Korea and became the first American to publicly meet Kim Jong Un, who inherited leadership of the ostensibly communist country from his father in 2011. According to Rodman, Kim wanted a phone call from President Barack Obama and said, "I don't want do war."
North Korea informed foreign embassy employees Friday that they should leave Pyongyang. The British Foreign Office said in a statement that the North Korean government asked the diplomats to "inform them by 10 April what assistance they would require from the DPRK should they wish to be evacuated," The Telegraph reports.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, whose embassy staff in Pyongyang was also encouraged to leave, said Friday: "We are very perturbed about the supercharged tensions, which for now are verbal. We want to understand the causes of this proposal."
The current bout of saber-rattling can be attributed in part to a nuclear weapon test and military training exercises. The U.N. Security Council approved a new round of sanctions against North Korea on March 7 as punishment for its Feb. 12 nuclear weapon test. Two months of joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises began March 1, preceding the north's March 11 claim that it had unilaterally abandoned the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. On Saturday, North Korea reportedly declared a "state of war" against the south.
"[F]urther provocative action would be regrettable," U.S. Defense Department spokesman George Little said Friday.
Traditional allies of North Korea, including China and Cuba, are evidently uneasy about North Korea's rhetoric. In an editorial published Thursday by Cuban news publication Granma, longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro – who handed over power to his brother in 2011 – urged Kim not to pursue nuclear war.
"This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the [Cuban Missile Crisis] in 1962, 50 years ago," Castro wrote. He urged Kim to avoid using nuclear weapons and consider that "it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70 [percent] of the population of the planet."