President Barack Obama speaks to the media about sequestration in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, March 1, 2013. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Aamer Madhani, USA Today
WASHINGTON-The White House said on Thursday that the United States is fully capable of defending against a North Korean ballistic missile strike.
Earlier on Thursday, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously for new sanctions against North Korea which carried out a third nuclear test on Feb. 12. The new sanctions triggered Pyongyang to threaten on Thursday a nuclear strike against the United States.
"The United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
North Korea charged that they were prepared to "exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors" and said Washington is "set to light a fuse for a nuclear war," according to a statement from a a foreign ministry spokesman carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
Carney added that the rogue regime, "will achieve nothing by threats or provocations."
Shortly after Kim Jong Un was elevated to succeed his father, U.S. negotiators reached an understanding with Pyongyang that was announced Feb. 12, 2012.
The North Koreans agreed to suspend their uranium enrichment program and allow U.N. inspectors back in the country, moves that gave the U.S. and other allies a sliver of hope that six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program could be revived.
But 16 days after the deal was reached, North Korea announced it would launch a satellite attached to a rocket into space, compelling condemnation from the Obama administration and international community. The launch was carried out on April 13, 2012, and the North Koreans carried out a subsequent long-range missile launch on Dec. 12, 2012.
The situation reached a new low last month when North Korea conducted it's latest nuclear threat.
"Pyongyang's February 12 announcement of a third nuclear test...and its subsequent threats to conduct even more follow-on measures are only the latest in a long line of reminders that [North Korea's] nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities pose serious threats to U.S. national security, to regional security in the Asia-Pacific, and to the global nonproliferation regime," Glyn Davies, the State Department's special representative for North Korea policy, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.