WASHINGTON – The new direct threat from North Korea of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States – while not surprising – suggests, experts say, the rogue nation actually now is close to placing a bomb aboard a three-stage missile, which is capable of reaching the western United States.

The threat followed the nation’s Feb. 12 test of a miniaturized nuclear weapon that may fit on a long-range missile, and prompted an immediate condemnation from the United Nations Security Council and North Korea’s closest friends, Russia and China, who agreed today to new sanctions.

But while Russia and China are the closest to the North Korean leadership, it is becoming increasingly apparent that they have limited influence over that leadership’s actions.

Some observers believe the bellicose statements from the North Korean leadership of Kim Jong-Un are to solidify the military behind him.

The latest North Korean threat coincides with military drills planned by the U.S. and South Korea. Pyongyang said the exercises were meant to serve as a launching pad for a nuclear war.

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Pyongyang also announced that it was scrapping the armistice with Washington which brought about a ceasefire of hostilities of the 1950-1953 Korean War. The conflict never formally ended and a state of war continues to exist between North and South Korea today.

At present, there are some 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in the 30 miles between North Korea and South Korean capital, Seoul.

Opposite that on the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone, Pyongyang has some one million of its own troops on full alert, along with massive amounts of artillery hidden in the mountains – all aimed at South Korea.

“Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to [a] pre-emptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest,” said a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman.

While some analysts still don’t believe North Korea has mastered the ability to mount a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile, other experts believe North Korea made the threat of a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the United States because its Feb. 12 nuclear test proved to be a success toward the miniaturization of a nuclear weapon to be placed on its long-range missiles.

It took time, from the test until now, to analyze the data. The rogue nation is known to have conducted nuclear tests, as well tests on multiple stage rockets.

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During that period, North Korea also released a video against a musical backdrop of Michael Jackson’s song, “We are the World,” showing a nuclear weapon detonation over New York City.

Some experts agree that not believing North Korea’s technical breakthroughs may be tied to a failure to recognize that the long-time U.S. approach of trying to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons development was unsuccessful.

Years ago, North Korea and Iran, among other developing and Third World countries, had obtained detailed blueprints from Pakistan to miniaturize a nuclear warhead for missiles.

They obtained them from the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, A.Q. Khan, who had set up an international diversion network to obtain Western technology to develop and ultimately produce Pakistan’s first nuclear weapon.

For years, U.S. authorities have sought to debrief Khan to determine what other diversions of nuclear technology he and his network accomplished and undertake a threat assessment.

Pakistan, which is neither a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty nor a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, now is assessed to have some 80 nuclear weapons capable of being delivered either by its missiles or the F-16s the U.S. provided.

The U.S. continues to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan in aid. In addition, Pakistani officials have continued to refuse numerous U.S. requests to interview Khan, whom Pakistani authorities regard as a national treasure.

The threat by North Korea of a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the U.S. is an indication of a weak nation being prepared to use asymmetrical warfare to take on a superior military force, i.e., the United States, analysts say.

Experts have told WND that North Korea only needs to explode one nuclear device over the U.S. to cripple or destroy America through its greatest vulnerability, its electrical grid system, and the critical infrastructures upon which a technology-based society such as the U.S. has come to depend.

This prospect first became apparent when North Korea launched a three-stage missile in December. Given its success, U.S. analysts said that it could reach the western portion of the United States.

During that launch, the North Koreans also orbited a “package” which Pyongyang said was a satellite, but it could be a nuclear warhead in future launches.

Experts said that while the missile could reach the western portion of the U.S., it also could place a nuclear warhead in orbit.

Upon command, the North Koreans then could tell the nuclear weapon to deorbit over the U.S. to explode at a high altitude to create an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, that could cripple or destroy the vulnerable national grid system and other electronic components.

While the White House was quick to say that the U.S. could defend itself against a North Korean ballistic missile attack, experts agree that such an event would cripple the U.S.

It also would adversely affect military command, control and communications to undertake any military response, since the U.S. military has a 99 percent reliance on the national grid in the U.S.

Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the new sanctions against North Korea, will “bite hard.” The moves target how the North Korean regime is able to move cash around, such as for its nuclear and missile programs.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was unworried by the situation.

“I can tell you that the United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack,” he said.

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