Last month North Koreans successfully launched their first rocket and dubbed themselves “space conquerors,” though the satellite was quickly tumbling out of control. On Tuesday the U.N. Security Council condemned the launch and tightened sanctions, and North Korea didn’t take the news well. In a statement issued through its state-run news agency on Thursday, North Korea’s National Defense Commission said it would conduct a nuclear test and launch more long-range rockets as part of its “upcoming all-out action” against the United States, its “arch-enemy” and the “main player” behind the sanctions. While previously North Korea had insisted the launch was part of a peaceful scientific mission, it added, “In a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle, we do not hide that the various satellite and long-range rockets that we will continue to launch, and the high-level nuclear test that we will conduct, are targeted at the U.S., the sworn enemy of our people.”
Bombastic language from North Korea is pretty standard — previously it’s threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of flames” and launch “a merciless shower of fire” at its neighbor to the south — but specifically calling out the United States is unusual. North Korea said the new tests would “all orientate toward the purpose of winning in the all-out action for foiling the U.S.” adding that, “settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival.”
While North Korea frequently makes empty threats, experts believe it’s currently capable of conducting another underground nuclear test. Launching a “full-fledged confrontation” with the U.S. is still a stretch, but according to the New York Times, its missiles can now fly more than 6,200 miles and another nuclear test “could help bolster its efforts to build a nuclear device small enough to mount on long-range missiles.” North Korea already carried out two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, but this would be the first on Kim Jong-un’s watch. While it was hoped that he might be willing to negotiate the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear programs, it appears he’s planning to follow in his father’s rather frightening footsteps.