PYONGYANG, North Korea - Following America’s move to re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, Pyongyang has fought back, calling it “a serious provocation.”
On Wednesday, two days after being featured on the list, North Korea responded and vowed to keep up its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against the “hostile” United States.
A spokesman of the North’s Foreign Ministry told its official Korean Central News Agency, “The U.S., the kingpin of all kinds of terrorism who cannot even prevent terror in its own territory, is acting like an ‘international judge on terrorism’ while attaching or removing the label of ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ on sovereign countries. This is a serious provocation and a violent infringement upon our dignified country.”
The comments came as North Korea’s first official reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision announced on Monday, to restore North Korea to Washington’s list of terrorism-sponsoring states, along with Iran, Sudan and Syria.
A day after the announcement was made, the Treasury Department announced a new round of sanctions to impede the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile program, targeting North Korean companies and ships as well as Chinese trading companies.
Several experts feared that re-listing North Korea will raise fears in the region, and might be used by North Korea as an excuse to resume weapons tests.
The last missile launch took place in North Korea on September 15.
On Wednesday, the unidentified North Korean spokesman, however, did not make any direct threat to launch missiles or target the U.S. or other nations.
However, the spokesman warned that the North’s “deterrence will be further strengthened” - and that the country “must continue to keep the treasured nuclear sword in our hands more tightly” - as long as Washington continued with its “hostile policy” against the North.
He added that the re-designation reflected Washington’s “intention to destroy our ideology and system,” and that its army and people were “hardening their will to settle all accounts with those gangsters at any time in any way.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a new report released by the European Council on Foreign Relations claimed that Manhattan, the White House and the Pentagon are among North Korea's top nuclear targets.
According to the report, “Major American cities," Guam, Hawaii and U.S. military bases in the Pacific are also primary targets for North Korea.
The report stated, "North Korea lacks a clear distinction between the use of nuclear weapons against military targets and their use against civilian targets.”
Pyongyang, it said, seems to view both military and civilian targets fairly equally.
The Europe-based think tank is said to have reviewed material published by the country's state-run news outlets in the half-decade since Kim Jong Un came to power in order to gain more insight on its nuclear ambitions.
The comprehensive report aims to "predict Pyongyang’s response to different scenarios, and to avoid war, the international community needs to understand how the regime sees its nuclear weapons, and when it would use them."
The researchers concluded that Kim Jong Un has made it clear he will not consider denuclearization and that his nuclear philosophy is driven by North Korea's technological inferiority.
The report said, “Without certainty that its arsenal could survive the first strike by its enemies, Pyongyang’s deterrence relies on the threat of launching the first strike itself.”