North Korea threatens nuclear attack on US

A North Korean official claims the country has long range missiles

North Korea has threatened to attack the US with nuclear weapons if the country “forces it to do so”.

Park Yong-Chol, the deputy director of the North Korean think tank the Institute for Research into National Reunification, gave a rare two-hour interview with CNN on Thursday.

The network said it was only allowed to conduct the interview on the basis that two portraits of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were visible behind Park during filming.

In it, he escalated Pyongyang's fiery rhetoric by claiming North Korea was nuclear-capable and equipped with long-range missiles he warned could reach mainland US.

“We are equipped with nuclear arsenals,” Park reiterated. “We may use them if we are forced by the US to do so.”

North Korea has repeatedly threatened nuclear attacks and promised it was ready “anytime” to launch nuclear missiles at the US as recently as March. Park also outright denied the existence of brutal political camps detailed in a shocking report on human rights by the United Nations, claiming North Korean society “has no political strife, factions or political division” and therefore no need for the term “political prisoner”.

North Korean defectors have given harrowing accounts of being beaten, tortured and experiencing other human rights abuses while being detained in prison camps.

"If you talk about human rights in my country, I will talk about human rights in the United States," he added. "You have racial riots taking place in the wake of the killing of so many black people by the police. You have prisons full of inmates and new techniques of torture being used.

"The US President and other high-ranking administration officials have acknowledged really severe forms of punishment on inmates in detention.”

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