Should ramped-up tensions between the U.S. and North Korea devolve into outright nuclear war, Pyongyang is claiming such a conflict would result in the demise of the Western superpower.
The North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun—which is controlled by the state—ran an opinion piece Tuesday titled "Nuclear War Will Bring Nothing but Doom to U.S."
"Its vast territory is exposed to our preemptive nuclear strike," the piece reads, adding that the North Korean army was "waiting for the moment it will reduce the whole of the U.S. mainland to ruins with its absolute weaponry of justice."
Along with the U.S.'s "collapse," the piece threatened that "South Korea will be submerged in a sea of fire, Japan will be reduced to ashes."
Experts are skeptical about the North's ability to launch a strike on the U.S., but its capabilities have improved under the rule of Kim Jong Un, who has emphasized the importance of the program even as the country deals with mass starvation. The opinion piece seemed to claim the North had an operational intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking mainland America, which is widely believed to be untrue.
"If the U.S. shows any slight sign of provocation, just the inter-continental ballistic rockets displayed in the April military parade will fly into the U.S.," it read. "The reckless nuclear war provocation by the Trump administration will bring it nothing but the fall of the American empire."
That wasn't the first time North Korean state media has threatened the United States with nuclear war.
"The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean Peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war," the North's official KCNA news agency said Tuesday. It cited an apparent bomb-dropping drill in South Korea as the latest provocation from the U.S.
President Donald Trump has also threatened North Korea. "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump told Reuters last week. "We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult."
The president did change his tune a bit this week, suggesting he could meet with North Korea's dictatorial leader to work things out.
"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it," Trump told Bloomberg News Monday. "If it's under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that."
The U.S., meanwhile, reportedly has an operational THAAD—Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system—set up in South Korea, a move that angered China, North Korea's main ally in the region.
The North, which carried out two nuclear tests last year, has said it would ramp up the program in the wake of the tensions with the U.S.
The country's "measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership," a spokesman for North Korea's foreign ministry said to state media, according to Reuters.
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