The sabers are rattling: Nuclear threats from Russia and North Korea grow more belligerent

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared that any enemy that takes military action against Pyongyang "will be perished" at nuke-point.
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North Korea
North Korea residents watch video on TV on missile launch.
(JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia has drawn attention in recent days for reminding the rest of the world that it possesses nuclear weapons and might not be afraid to use them — but the belligerent nation has been eclipsed this week by even more bellicose nuclear talk from North Korea. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday responded to recent comments from the Kremlin that NATO support for Ukraine is "pouring oil on the fire" and is risking nuclear confrontation.

"Nobody wants to see a nuclear war happen," Austin said while speaking to reporters in Germany. "It's a war that, you know, where all sides lose. And so rattling of sabers and, you know, dangerous rhetoric is clearly unhelpful and something that we won't engage in."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday night, though, spoke more directly of nuclear war, declaring that any enemy that takes military action against Pyongyang "will be perished" at nuke-point.

Kim issued the threat during an impassioned speech while holding a late night military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army. During the parade, Kim showcased his country's massive Hwasong-17 long range intercontinental ballistic missile.

Calling the nuclear forces "the symbol of our national strength and the core of our military power," Kim said he would build more nuclear weapons with "fastest possible speed."

North Korea would take measures to cope with "the rapidly-changing political and military situations and all the possible crises of the future," Kim said. 

"The fundamental mission of our nuclear forces is to deter a war, but our nukes can never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent," he said. "If any forces attempt military confrontation with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, they will be perished."

Kim's parade coincided closely with an appearance by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who told Russian state television that the risk of nuclear war is a serious one.

"Everyone is reciting incantations that in no case can we allow World War III," Lavrov said, noting that the risk should not be "artificially inflated," but also is "rather significant."

Ukraine brushed off Lavrov's remarks as rhetoric from a weakening opponent.

"Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote Monday on Twitter. "Thus the talk of a 'real' danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security."

No one, however, seemed to dismiss the threat from Pyongyang.

North Korea's nuclear program represents "bad news" for neighboring allied forces, one expert said.

Pyongyang's "growing reliance on nuclear weapons in North Korean doctrine is a serious problem," according to Robert Kelly, an international relations professor at Pusan National University in South Korea.

"The North is, we believe, reaching for a wide-spectrum nuclear missile program," Kelly wrote in an essay for the web magazine 1945. "It currently has intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, with which it can strike the United States. That is Pyongyang's core deterrence concern."

North Korea is belligerent and reckless in its language and "openly threatens to use its nukes against the United States," Kelly wrote. 

The threats are a serious deterrent, one U.S. military intelligence analyst told Just the News.

"We don't want to get embroiled in a fight with a country that makes it very clear it will not hesitate to wipe us off the face of the Earth," the analyst said.

The threat has also worked in terms of Russia's war against Ukraine.

"Putin has held off NATO by using the nuclear threat," the analyst said, adding that the threat from North Korea seems "more present," in part because countermeasures in the area are not enough to stop a nuclear strike.

Kelly agreed.

"Sadly, missile defense does not work very well," he wrote. "It is often described as 'shooting a bullet with a bullet.' "

Warned Kim at his Monday parade: "Our armed forces are now fully prepared for any type of war."