North Korea has vowed to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States in a outburst of furious rhetoric as the United Nations cleared the way for new sanctions against Pyongyang.
An unidentified spokesman for Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry said the North will exercise its right to "pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the headquarters of the aggressors" because Washington is pushing to start a nuclear war against the North.
The inflammatory language has been a regular occurrence in recent days and months with the North Korean regime expressing its fury over sanctions and upcoming military drills involving South Korea and the US.
Although North Korea boasts of nuclear bombs and pre-emptive strikes, it is not thought to have mastered the ability to produce a warhead small enough to put on a missile capable of reaching the US. It is believed to have enough nuclear fuel, however, for a handful of crude nuclear devices.
Analysis of new satellite images released today appears to show an extensive network of prison camps that take up whole villages in North Korea.
According to reports the secretive regime has built a huge 'security perimeter' around an existing camp, human rights watchdog Amnesty said today.
Amnesty claims analysis of new satellite images of the area near Camp No. 14 in Kaechon shows that the government is 'blurring the lines' between its camps and surrounding civilians.
The UN's most powerful body today voted on a resolution drafted by North Korea's closest ally, China, and the United States.
The new resolution sends a powerful message to North Korea that the international community condemns its ballistic missile and nuclear tests - and its repeated violation of Security Council resolutions.
The new sanctions are aimed at making it more difficult for North Korea to finance and obtain material for its weapons programmes.
At a mass rally in Pyongyang today, tens of thousands of North Koreans protested at the US-South Korean war drills and sanctions.
Just last month a North Korean official threatened South Korea with “final destruction” during a debate at the UN Conference on Disarmament.
He said: “As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea’s erratic behaviour would only herald its final destruction,” Jon Yong Ryong, North Korean diplomat, told the meeting.
Without specifically referring the North’s recent nuclear test, Mr Jon said North Korea had recently taken a “resolute step for self-defence”.
His comments drew criticism from other nations, including South Korea and Britain.
In today's statement that was carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency the regime accused the US of leading efforts to implement new sanctions against North Korea.
The statement said the new sanctions would only advance the timing for North Korea to fulfill previous vows of taking "powerful second and third countermeasures" against its enemies.
Those measures haven't been specifically elaborated on.
"We gravely warn that at a time when we cannot avoid a second Korean War, the UN Security Council, which served as the US puppet in 1950 and made Korean people harbor eternal grudges against it, must not commit the same crime again," it said.
North Korea in the statement demanded the UN Security Council immediately dismantle the American-led UN Command that's based in Seoul and move to end the state of war that exists on the Korean Peninsula, which continues six decades after fighting stopped because an armistice, not a peace treaty, ended the war.
The US said in response to North Korea's comments that it would take necessary steps to defend itself and its allies after the nuclear strike threat.
The top envoy for North Korea policy is Glyn Davies who is calling on the North not to miscalculate and says the US is working with South Korea to ensure it's ready for any threats that arise.
He was testifying to a Senate foreign relations panel today, shortly after the sanctions vote.
The panel's chairman, Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, says the, "absurd" threat of a nuclear strike on the US would be tantamount to suicide.