North Korea stepped up its threats against the United States today, warning that the Obama administration's recent pledge to provide nuclear defenses to South Korea could invite what the state-run media called a "fire shower" of nuclear retaliation.
The threat was made in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper on the eve of the 59th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. In lengthy editorials, North Korea accused the United States of provoking the war in 1950. The paper also reported that North Korea would "never give up its nuclear deterrent . . . and will further strengthen it" if attacked by the United States.
Tensions between the two countries have risen since Pyongyang launched its second underground nuclear test last month. There has been speculation by the Japanese media that North Korea might launch a long-range test missile toward Hawaii on July 4.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy continues to track a North Korean vessel off the Chinese coast that is suspected of carrying nuclear weapons. President Barack Obama recently extended sanctions against the country for another year and warned that North Korea's nuclear program posed "an unusual and extraordinary threat" to the United States.