A top North Korean official says that the US has nukes positioned off its coast aimed at "our country, our capital, and our Dear Leader," notes the country won't back down from this threat, and warns it might even take the first step if it feels provoked. "A preemptive nuclear strike is not something the US has a monopoly on," Lee Yong Pil, director of the country's Institute for American Studies, tells NBC News. "If we see that the US would do it to us, we would do it first. … We have the technology." Lee also suggests that North Korea may carry out even more nuclear tests if the US and South Korea don't back off of their "increasingly aggressive" drills. In addition to those drills, the North isn't happy about the arrival of a US aircraft carrier to Busan, South Korea, just hours before its failed missile launch on Friday.
It's not the first time North Korea has talked a tough game against the US, noting previously it was ready to take on the America's "nuclear hegemony" with its own "nuclear hammers of justice," per RT.com. The North performed its last major act of what Seoul called "fanatic recklessness" on Sept. 9, when it carried out a nuclear test that caused a 5.3-magnitude earthquake. NBC notes that pushing a warning out about another possible test will likely only infuriate the rest of the world and perhaps result in further sanctions against the rogue state. The Pentagon, meanwhile, seems confident that North Korea doesn't yet have the capability to reach the US mainland with a long-range missile, although a North Korean official authorized to speak about the country's missile program says the US is fibbing about that. (Read more North Korea stories.)