April 25 (UPI) — North Korea issued a message of warning to the United States on Tuesday, vowing to respond to force with force if attacked.
But Pyongyang did not engage in a major provocation on the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army as some analysts have speculated, a possible sign Kim Jong Un could be taking a step back in the face of renewed pressure from China and the United States.
Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun stated in an editorial Tuesday its army has the capacity to “respond to any war the United States wants,” and that the “era of the U.S. imperialist’s nuclear terror has ended forever,” because North Korea has developed its own nuclear capacity.
The editorial also suggested the absence of a nuclear or missile provocation on Tuesday was no guarantee the Kim Jong Un regime would refrain from a test in the near future.
“In the area of defense, as we produce more advanced weapons, we must work toward creating more events similar to the ‘March 18 Revolution’,” Pyongyang stated.
North Korea was referring to the date of North Korea’s test of a rocket engine that could be used in the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“The whole world will soon see the significance of our immense victory,” North Korea stated.
Pak Yong Sik, a senior military official, stated North Korea’s nuclear weapons are “on standby at all times” and that “all U.S. imperialist bases in the Asia-Pacific are within range.”
On Tuesday North Korea conducted a large-scale conventional drill near Wonsan, on the eastern coast of the peninsula, according to Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff.
About 300-400 artillery guns were deployed in the largest drill of its kind, Yonhap reported.
The North Korean leader did not issue a message on the day of the anniversary, most recently making an appearance at a pig farm, according to KCTV on Sunday.
China and the United States condemned North Korea’s missile provocations last week, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the United States would respond if North Korea attacks U.S. troops in the region.
“If you see [Kim] attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to [strike back],” Haley said on NBC’s “Today.” “But right now, we’re saying, ‘Don’t test, don’t use nuclear missiles, don’t try and do any more actions,’ and I think he’s understanding that.”