In a bellicose statement singling out the United States as the "sworn enemy" of the Korean people, North Korea today announced plans for a third nuclear test and continued rocket launches.
The move is seen as a disappointment to those who hoped the country's new leader, Kim Jong-Un, might take a less aggressive path than his predecessor and father, Kim Jong-il.
It is also seen as a direct challenge to President Obama and South Korea's newly elected president, Park Geun-hye, who takes office next month.
The statement from North Korea's National Defense Commission read:
"Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival."The renewed threats come in response to the U.S. backed resolution tightening sanctions against North Korea after its December rocket launch.
At that time, North Korea repeatedly insisted that the launch was simply part of its peaceful space program. The recent statement made no mention of that.
It read: "We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States."
South Korean officials analyzed debris from the December launch that, they say, indicates North Korea built and tested crucial components for a missile that can fly further than 6,200 miles.
Analysts say that preparations at the Pungyee test site in northeastern North Korea are underway and that a new underground test could take place on short notice.
Within the international monitoring community it is not believed that North Korea currently has the capability to launch a long-range rocket with the capacity to reach the United States or the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile. But the U.S. is not pleased with North Korea's plans. Glyn Davies, the top U.S. envoy to the region, said in Seoul, "We hope they don't do it. We call on them not to do it."
China, North Korea's main ally in the region, is also urging restraint. China backed the U.S. resolution at the United Nations and today the Foreign Ministry cautioned North Korea not to take further steps to increase tension.