North Korea says it's in a 'state of war' with the south
North Korean Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un has turned the screws a little tighter in his war of words with the US and South Korea. The North Korean news agency has issued a statement saying that the two countries are now in a "state of war" and all issues "will be handled accordingly."
"From this time on, the North-South relations will be entering a state of war and all issues raised between the North and the South will be handled accordingly," it said.
The statement also warned that if the U.S. and South Korea carried out a pre-emptive attack, the conflict "will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war."
Analysts have said the North's threats have followed a similar pattern but that the country's 30-year-old leader is unpredictable and potentially dangerous.
The White House responded on Saturday by reiterating that "North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. However, she said the U.S. "takes these threats seriously".
"We continue to take additional measures against the North Korean threat, including our plan to increase the U.S. ground-based interceptors and early warning and tracking radar, and the signing of the ROK-U.S. counter-provocation plan," she said.
Unless they have all completely lost their minds, the North will not attack the South. That's not to say that an accidental war isn't becoming more of a probability. With both sides ready for war, it won't take much to start one.
Although North Korea has never gone this far - aborgating the truce, cutting off the hotline, and now virtually declaring war - analysts say their goal remains the same: Wring concessions in the Six Party talks on food and economic aid.
It's a strategy that has worked in the past. But it is an open question whether Kim has stuck his neck out too far and can't climb down without losing face in his own country. That could cost him his leadership - and likely his life.