In the last three months, Pyongyang, under its enigmatic young leader Kim Jong Un, has defied the United States and other world powers by testing an intercontinental ballistic missile and testing a third nuclear bomb. Its latest salvo: a declaration carried through state media that it was cancelling the 60-year armistice that maintains peace on the Korean peninsula.
Washington is walking a tight line. It is trying not to overplay the danger from an attention-seeking regime infamous for its bluster but has to take North Korea’s threats of possible military action seriously. The U.S. also is treaty-bound to provide support for South Korea or Japan in the event of any aggression.
“We are certainly concerned by North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday. “The threats that they have been making follow a pattern designed to raise tension and intimidate others. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocation, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in northeast Asia.”
In an effort to combat North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, the Obama administration issued a series of sanctions Monday.