US taking North Korea threat ‘seriously’: White House

Washington, Mar 31: The United States has said it is taking North Korea’s war threat seriously, despite the totalitarian country’s history of such “bellicose rhetoric”.

On Saturday, North Korea said that the peninsula it shares with South Korea is entering a “state of war”.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said the US takes the threats seriously and that it is in close contact with its South Korean allies, reports Fox News.

Hayden, however, added that North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats, and said that their latest announcement follows that familiar pattern.

North Korea made the comments after two U.S. B-2 stealth bombers dropped dummy munitions earlier this week on an uninhabited South Korean island, part of annual defense drills that North Korean sees as rehearsals for invasion.

The country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, ordered his generals to put rockets on standby and threatened to strike American targets if provoked.

On Saturday, he also threatened to shut down a border factory complex that is the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

The threats are seen as part of an effort to provoke the new government in Seoul to change its policies toward Pyongyang and to win diplomatic talks with Washington that could get it more aid.

Military analysts have said a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely, noting that the Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war for 60 years. But the North’s continued threats toward South Korea and the United States, including a vow to launch a nuclear strike, have raised worries that a misjudgment between the sides could lead to a clash.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has also announced that in addition to the military exercise, the US will fortify its defenses against a potential North Korean missile attack by adding more than a dozen missile interceptors to the 26 already in place at Fort Greely, Alaska. (ANI)