We should be used to this by now, but I can't be the only observer who detects an increase in bellicosity coming from Kim Jong-Un and the North Korean government.
North Korea said today it has moved strategic rocket and artillery units into top combat position in preparation for a strike against the United States.
In a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea said, "From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army will be putting in combat duty posture No. 1 all field artillery units including long-range artillery strategic rocket units that will target all enemy objects in U.S. invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam."
The United States recently engaged in long-planned joint military exercises in the region. Also, the United States and South Korea Friday signed a military pact providing for a joint response to even low-level provocation from the North.
The move was predicted by analysts to provoke the North, and state news Monday released photos of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, inspecting People's Army Unit 1501.
In response to the KCNA statement today, South Korea's Presidential Office downplayed the threat. "We have not detected any special movements in the North Korean military," the office said.
Kim Yong Hyun, a professor of North Studies at Dong Guk University in Seoul, said North Korea's statement "doesn't mean that they will conduct some sort of military attack right away. They are elevating the crisis situation with the harshest rhetoric as possible."
North Korea has made similar statements in the past but has not included the term "No.1" until now. South Korean military experts are analyzing what that might mean.
It is not the first time the military regime has put its forces on "combat-ready' posture."
North Korea put the country on "pre-war" status in 1993 after it announced it was abandoning the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The most recent statement comes amid escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula. North Korea carried out an underground nuclear test Feb. 12. It successfully tested in December a long-range rocket capable of hitting the United States. Both actions led to a U.N. resolution toughening sanctions against the reclusive regime.
North Korea has since released consistently bellicose threats directed at both the United States and neighboring South Korea.
It's almost like a two year old throwing a tantrum by screaming at the top of his lungs. The chance that they will carry through with any threat are remote, but cannot be dismissed entirely. And, of course, there's always the chance that the North's heightened alert status could lead to an accidental war if they perceive a harmless move by the South as a threat.
And where is China in this? One would think that responsible leaders in Beijing would sit on the North Koreans and tell them to tone it down some. The last thing China needs is a war on its border with the US involved. You would expect China to make its feelings known to the North Koreans quickly.