The boy who cried wolf is now openly screaming "thermonuclear war." No, really. AFP reports that North Korea said Tuesday the Korean peninsula was headed for "thermo-nuclear" war and advised foreigners to consider leaving South Korea, as the UN chief warned of a potentially "uncontrollable" situation. "Tuesday's advisory -- greeted largely with indifference -- followed a similar one last week to foreign embassies in Pyongyang, to consider evacuating by April 10 on the grounds war may break out. "The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermo-nuclear war," the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee said in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency." The result - a big yawn, which sadly for Kim Junior is the worst reaction. After all what is a dictator with an inferiority complex and a laughable military to do to get some respect around here and score some "nuisance value" cash from the superpowers (which has been his entire plan all along).
The problem is he has done all the possible jawboning he could, and the next option is i) to follow through on one or more of his endless and increasingly idiotic threats, or ii) step back from the "thermonuclear" brink and be on the lookout for a military coup as he has pushed so far he can't possible retrace without losing all credibility, and fear a violent overthrow. Naturally, both options are hardly appetizing but the time to chose is rapidly approaching. And if he can't make up his mind, the increasingly ample US military presence in the region will be happy to make it for him.
Saying it did not want to see foreigners in South Korea "fall victim", the statement requested all foreign institutions, enterprises and tourists "to take measures for shelter and evacuation".
The committee blamed the heightened war risk on the "warmongering US" and its South Korean "puppets" who were intent on invasion.
The US dismissed the warning as "unhelpful" on Tuesday. White House spokesman Jay Carney criticised Pyongyang for more "unhelpful rhetoric that serves only to escalate tensions".
The "thermo-nuclear war" threat has been wielded several times in recent months -- most recently on March 7 -- despite expert opinion that North Korea is nowhere near developing such an advanced nuclear device.
"It is our current assessment that there is no immediate risk to British nationals in South Korea," a British embassy spokesman said, echoing similar statements from the US, French and other missions.
Last week's warning to embassies in Pyongyang was also largely dismissed as empty rhetoric, with most governments making it clear they had no plans to withdraw personnel.
Hollow warnings galore:
Yonhap news agency Tuesday cited South Korean intelligence as saying the North had completed preparations for an expected missile test-launch -- possibly to coincide with April 15 celebrations for the birthday of late founder Kim Il-Sung.
Japan, where the armed forces have been authorised to shoot down any North Korean missile headed towards its territory, said Tuesday it had deployed Patriot missiles in its capital as a pre-emptive defence measure.
A top US military commander said Tuesday that he favoured shooting down a North Korean missile only if it threatened the United States or Washington's allies in the region.
When asked by lawmakers if he supported knocking out any missile fired by North Korea, Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of US Pacific Command, said: "I would not recommend that".
But he told the Senate Armed Services Committee he would "certainly recommend" intercepting an incoming North Korean missile "if it was in defence of our allies" or the United States.
And from an "interception" to very rapid escalation, it is only a drone throw away. Escalation, that is, which is completely under the control of the US military, and which is presented to the world in such flashing red headlines that the GETCO algos translate each incremental development into yet another ES liftathon frenzy. Because what better way to go out at the all time S&P top than in a mushroom cloud blaze of glory.