North Korea on Tuesday warned of surprise harsh assaults on the South if it does not beg pardon for popular demonstrations against the Kim regime that took place in Seoul on Monday, Reuters reported.
"Our retaliatory action will start without any notice from now," unidentified North Korean military officers said in a state media report.
"If the puppet authorities truly want dialogue and negotiations, they should apologize for all anti-D.P.R.K. hostile acts," the North said.
However, Pyongyang's new threat of sledgehammer blows" does not take away from the impression that the Stalinist regime in reality is interested in dialing down regional tensions, an anonymous U.S. official based in the South told Reuters.
North Korea has in recent weeks taken its brinkmanship tactics to new heights, making unprecedented threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the United States and South Korea and deploying suspected intermediate-range ballistic missiles close to its eastern coast.
There is still a chance Pyongyang could in short order carry out a trial missile firing, according to an anonymous U.S. military official. It was thought that the North was most likely to fire a missile on Monday to commemorate the birthday of regime founder Kim Il Sung, Reuters reported.
"We've all thought this month was the zone" for a missile firing to take place, according to the high-level Pentagon source.
President Obama, though, played down the potential for North Korea to assemble a working nuclear-armed ballistic missile, Yahoo!News reported on Tuesday. His comments to NBC News come after a lawmaker last week read from a Defense Intelligence Agency report that cited "moderate confidence" that the North could assemble a nuclear missile that would have low reliability.
“Based on our current intelligence assessments we do not think that they have that capacity,” according to Obama. “But we have to make sure that we are dealing with every contingency out there. That’s why I repositioned missile defense systems: to guard against any miscalculation on their part.”
The Obama administration has signaled its openness to renewed diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang in order to reduce regional tensions, but only if the North first renews a 2005 commitment to denuclearization, according to the Associated Press. This is problematic as the Kim regime in recent months has taken steps to enshrine its nuclear weapons program in the country's constitution and has said it would never give up its nuclear deterrent in negotiations.
Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye are slated to hold their first summit early next month in Washington, the Yonhap News Agency reported. How to deal with the North Korean nuclear impasse will be high on their agenda.