Enraged by new U.N. Security Council sanctions aimed at the country, North Korea has threatened to launch a "pre-emptive nuclear strike" against the U.S. according to ABC News .
The sanctions were a unanimous decision by the Council, including the secretive Stalinist nation's closest ally, China. They were put in place to punish the country for developing nuclear weapons and creating a ballistic missile program.
Here's a closer look at the threats made by North Korea.
U.S. dismisses threat
Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson minimized the threat, saying that they were "provocations" and would "only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia," according to ABC News.
During a State Department briefing , spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that "that this kind of bellicose rhetoric from the DPRK is not surprising. It's not new. This regime has regularly missed the opportunity to improve its relationship with the outside world."
"Let me just take this opportunity to say that the United States is fully capable of defending against a DPRK ballistic missile attack," she added. "Furthermore, we are continuing to upgrade our ballistic missile defense capabilities."
As reported by ABC OTUS News , the U.S. has 30,000 forces based in South Korea and provides a "nuclear umbrella" security guarantee to its allies of South Korea and Japan. Neither country has atomic weapons.
Top U.S. envoy on North Korea Glyn Davies told reporters that the U.S. takes "all North Korean threats seriously enough to ensure that we have the correct defense posture to deal with any contingencies that might arise," according to ABC OTUS News.
U.N. condemns North Korea following latest detonations
The U.N. News Center reported that sanctions were tightened against North Korea's banking, travel, and trade following its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a recent nuclear test blast. The recent tests were the third round of nuclear tests conducted by the country, and the sanctions are the third round of punishments placed on the country.
Sanctions will freeze assets for a number of individuals and companies, including those involved in trading arms-related material.
A statement was released by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said, "At a time of new political leadership throughout the region, the Secretary-General urges Pyongyang to reverse course and build confidence with the country's neighbours."
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continen t.