North Korea Threatens a "Merciless Offensive" Involving Nuclear Weapons

Consistent with the highly belligerent posture North Korea has taken in the past three weeks, and the “rapid-fire series of provocations“ it has initiated since the beginning of 2009, Pyongyang yet again chose to escalate its rhetoric, this time threatening to use its nuclear weapons in a “merciless offensive” if provoked. After testing its second nuclear device in less than three years, numerous ballistic missile tests, deciding to withdraw from the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, and sentencing two American journalists to 12 years’ hard labor, North Korea took another unprecedented step in announcing for the first time it was prepared to use nuclear weapons in an offensive capacity. Up until now, North Korea has insisted its nuclear program was purely for defensive purposes.

North Korea stepped up threats over its controversial nuclear weapons programme Tuesday, saying it would use nuclear weapons if provoked.

In a commentary released by the state-run Minju Choson newspaper, North Korea raised tensions again in what is widely regarded as an attempt to stave off international punishment for its May 25 nuclear test.

The tensions emanating from Pyongyang are beginning to hit nascent business ties with the South: a Seoul-based fur manufacturer became the first South Korean company to announce Monday it was pulling out of an industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong.

The complex, which opened in 2004, is a key symbol of rapprochement between the two Koreas but the goodwill is evaporating quickly in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test on May 25 and subsequent missile tests.