SEOUL, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- North Korea blamed the United States on Wednesday for pushing Pyongyang toward becoming a nuclear weapons state, citing sanctions and U.S. nuclear threats as underlying causes.
"For [North Korea] nuclear weapons are not a means of exchange, rather they are a matter of life and death for national security," Pyongyang stated in Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun. "Strengthening our nuclear capabilities is inevitable from [North Korea's] standpoint. The United States must first begin by recognizing [North Korea] as a nuclear state."
North Korea also warned of consequences if the United States did not follow through with its request.
"There is no safe haven for those who pursue a hostile policy toward North Korea," the statement read.
The article added the United States has presented a "persistent nuclear threat," which has pushed Pyongyang to develop its own nuclear weapons.
"If the United States did not threaten our existence with nuclear blackmail and barbaric economic sanctions this extreme event would not have transpired," the statement read.
North Korea also said the United States has targeted the country for a preemptive nuclear attack, but that the "era of unilateral nuclear threats has forever come to an end."
Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have steadily deteriorated since January, when North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test then test-fired numerous ballistic missiles.
These provocations have placed Seoul, Tokyo and Washington on alert in recent months.
In its report "War with China: Thinking through the Unthinkable," the Rand Corporation highlighted the dangers North Korea poses to South Korea and its allies.
The report describes Pyongyang as "even more unpredictable than Russia...although North Korea no longer has the conventional military capability to invade and defeat South Korea, it could use missiles against South Korea or Japan."