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North Korea's plan to target the U.S. in a nuclear test

North Korean soldiers applaud during a mass rally organized to celebrate the success of a rocket launch.

North Korean soldiers applaud during a mass rally organized to celebrate the success of a rocket launch. // Ng Han Guan/AP

North Korea and its sometimes zany ruling family is fun in the form of a Tumblr or a silly tech executive pretending to be a diplomat. It gets pretty real when they start talking about pointing nukes at the United States, though. That's exactly what happened on Wednesday night, when North Korea's National Defense Commission announced in a statement broadcast over state television that it planned several more rocket launches as well as a nuclear test. It also threatened a "full-fledged confrontation" with the United States. "We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States," said the National Defense Commission.

There are a couple of ways of looking at this situation. You could take the optimistic, historically informed approach which tells us that North Korea is the king of empty threats. They're definitely not supposed to be conducting nuclear tests according to United Nations rules, and on Tuesday, the day before North Korea made the threat, the United Nations Security Council passed a U.S.-backed resolution that tightened the already tight sanctions against the country. North Korea obviously didn't appreciate this move, so the threatening statement is being read as a visceral response. However, that does not mean that North Korea will actually follow through with nuclear tests and further alienate themselves from the rest of the world. They've made empty threats in the past.

Read more at The Atlantic Wire

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