North Korea Rockets: Is Kim Jung Un Preparing To Attack US?

By Philip Ross on March 29, 2013 3:39 PM EDT

north korea
North Koreans attend a rally in Pyongyang on Friday to show support of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's order to put its missile units on standby in preparation for striking the U.S. and South Korea. (Photo: Reuters)

North Korea announced earlier today that its rockets are on "standby", ready to be deployed against the U.S. CNN reports that North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un approved a plan to prepare standby rockets to hit U.S. targets. Officials made the announcement that North Korea's rockets are ready to be fired at U.S. targets, including military bases in the Pacific and South Korea, over the state-run news agency, KCNA.

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During a news briefing on Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, "I think their very provocative actions and belligerent tone, it has ratcheted up the danger, and we have to understand that reality."

North Korea's rhetoric in recent weeks has been more bellicose than in the past, with Kim Jung Un threatening the U.S. with an all-out nuclear attack.

But according to Foster Klug of the Associated Press, we shouldn't take North Korea's threats too literally. "They're most likely meant to coerce South Korea into softening its policies, win direct talks and aid from Washington, and strengthen the young leader's credentials and image at home," he wrote.

The Associated Press reports that earlier today at Pyongyang's main square, tens of thousands of North Koreans in olive drab uniforms and arranged in straight lines raised their fists and chanted, in unison, "Death to the U.S. imperialists." Placards in the square had ominous messages for South Korea, including, "Let's rip the puppet traitors to death!" AP reports.

Critics of U.S. involvement in the region have said that the U.S. is provoking North Korea and inciting the country to acrimony, citing the U.S. military involvement in the area and its signing of an agreement with South Korea for a joint effort retaliation should North Korea attack. But Hagel demurs. The Defense Secretary said on Thursday, "I don't think we're doing anything extraordinary or provocative or ... out of the orbit of what nations do to protect their own interests," CBS reports.

While Kim Jung Un's threats against the U.S. are chilling, experts are almost certain that North Korea does not possess the technology to strike the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile, nor do they believe that Pyongyang has missiles capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

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