North Korea said Saturday that it was entering a “state of war” against the South, escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.
“From this time on, the North-South relations will be entering the state of war and all issues raised between the North and the South will be handled accordingly,” said a statement from Pyongyang’s official news agency KCNA.
The statement threatened “all-out war and nuclear war” against the United States.
“We will first target and dissolve mainland United States, Hawaii and Guam, and United States military based in South Korea,” said North Korea.
The declaration from the North is the latest salvo as Pyongyang ratchets up its rhetoric in anger at heightened UN sanctions implemented after the regime conducted its third nuclear test, and amid military exercises between South Korea and the U.S.
Last week, North Korea shut off a military hotline with the South, a direct line of communication, and earlier in the month threatened to hit the U.S. with a nuclear weapon and declared the armistice halting the Korean war void. On Friday, reports said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had placed his missile units on standby.
But experts believe that despite the threats, renewed war between the Koreas is unlikely.
GOP lawmakers, though, are pressing for the administration to do more to rein in Pyongyang, with the House set to consider new legislation which would punish banks that do business with the regime.