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Behind North Korea bluster, a record of troubling actions

Published on Mar 8, 2013 12:41 PM
 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) watches a flight exercise and a paratrooping drill of the Air and Anti-Air Force and Large Combined Unit 630 of the Korean People's Army, in this undated recent picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang on Feb 23, 2013. North Korea's blood-curdling war threats are often dismissed as the kind of over-the-top rhetoric the world expects from the reclusive and eccentric leadership in Pyongyang, now in its third generation under Mr Kim. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - North Korea's blood-curdling war threats are often dismissed as the kind of over-the-top rhetoric the world expects from the reclusive and eccentric leadership in Pyongyang, now in its third generation under Mr Kim Jong Un.

But while the latest threat to launch a "pre-emptive nuclear strike" on the United States is believed by experts to be beyond North Korea's technical capacities, and would be suicidal, history shows there can be bite behind Pyongyang's bark.

"This kind of extreme rhetoric has not been unusual for this regime, unfortunately," State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday, adding the United States could defend itself and allies Japan and South Korea in any event.

Asked if the deterrence talk meant that Washington sensed more than bombast, she added, "You have to take a government at its word when it makes these kinds of threats."

 
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