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North Korea issues warning to 'culprit' United States

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea issues warning to 'culprit' United States
Chinese soldiers stand guard outside the North Korean embassy in Beijing. Pyongyang's foreign ministry said it is ready to blame the United States for war, regardless of which side initiates a "preemptive strike," according to KCNA. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

April 6 (UPI) -- North Korea is doubling down on its threats after test-launching a missile that ended in failure this week.

Pyongyang's foreign ministry said on Thursday the country would blame the United States, regardless of which side initiates an outbreak of hostilities.

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"If war erupts, no matter who caused the preemptive strike, the United States will be held responsible," the foreign ministry said in a 7-page statement, according to state news agency KCNA, while blaming the U.S.-South Korea joint exercises for increasing tensions.

North Korea also claimed the joint exercises were a practice drill preparing for the assassination of Kim Jong Un.

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Seoul does have a plan to remove Kim in the event of a nuclear attack, but the message from the North suggested the decapitation strike would occur regardless of a provocation.

"The political, military and economic pressures of the United States against [North Korea] have well exceeded the limits," the statement from Pyongyang read.

While not mentioning the role its own provocations has played in escalating tensions, Pyongyang claimed the United States is conducting "extremely provocative and invasive warfare, to a point where the situation on the peninsula is beyond control."

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North Korea also mentioned unilateral U.S. sanctions as a cause for instability and described the embargoes as "hostile actions" against the regime.

Pyongyang is issuing the message ahead of the first summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

North Korea may also be trying to influence South Korea popular opinion ahead of presidential elections, to be held on May 9.

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Progressive presidential candidate Moon Jae-in has been enjoying a surge in popularity since Park's impeachment.

North Korea has endorsed the presidential impeachment in state media, but has not endorsed any specific candidate in the race.

Pyongyang has also been trying to divert South Korean attention from its missile provocations and attempting to blame the United States as the "main culprit of the destruction of peace."

Centrist presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo has been closing the gap with Moon in the polls, a sign South Koreans believe a tough stance on North Korea remains necessary.

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