After the announcement of increased UN sanctions the North Koreans - once again - crank up the rhetoric:
North Korea has threatened to attack South Korea if Seoul joined a new round of tightened United Nations sanctions.
The threat comes after Washington unveiled more of its own economic restrictions following Pyongyang's rocket launch last month.
In a third straight day of fiery rhetoric against regional powers, the North directed its verbal onslaught at its neighbour, saying: "Sanctions mean a war and a declaration of war against us."
As far as the previous official inflammatory statement is concerned - the one yesterday where they threatened the US - Marcus Noland and Stephen Haggard have some thoughts:
It is worthwhile to read what the North Koreans actually say without assuming that it is the opening bid in a game with a happy ending. It’s been over four years now since the Six Party Talks mechanism actually functioned. The new regime in Pyongyang is clearly doubling down on the satellite/missile program and wider military actions—including a possible nuclear test–as key elements of the “new phase” of the country’s development.
Despite the vaunted strategic acumen of the North Koreans, they appear to be in the process of making an extraordinary political blunder. Recall that in his first inaugural in January 2009, President Obama offered his outstretched hand and the North Koreans responded with missile and nuclear tests. These actions effectively insured that the President would not expend any political capital on the Korean question during his first term; instead the administration adopted a benign neglect policy of “strategic patience,” hiring a part-time North Korea policy coordinator.
Now, the change in government from Lee Myung-bak to Park Geun-hye in South Korea, and the start of a second Obama Administration and the likely confirmation of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State, offers the possibility of more engagement-friendly stances in both Seoul and Washington.
The North Koreans appear to be bent on stopping this possibility dead in its tracks.
In other words, whereas with the departed Dear Leader it was understood that there was a cynical and crafty intelligence behind the bluster, now, with Kim Jong-un, it seems that they're actually starting to believe their own propaganda. Which could prove dangerous, if not fatal.
And, to add another element to the mix, it seems that the Chinese may be tiring of Pyongyang's relentless belligerence.