Bush Completed The Prophecy Of Revelation 13:1-10

This Declassified CIA Report Shows the Shaky Case for the Iraq War

Fri Mar. 20, 2015 1:31 PM EDT
20050927_baf_m67_063.jpg

The United States began its invasion of Iraq 12 years ago. Yesterday, a previously classified Central Intelligence Agency report containing supposed proof of the country’s weapons of mass destruction was published by Jason Leopold of Vice News. Put together nine months before the start of the war, the National Intelligence Estimate spells out what the CIA knew about Iraq’s ability to produce biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. It would become the backbone of the Bush administration’s mistaken assertions that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs and posed a direct threat to the post-9/11 world.

The report is rife with what now are obvious red flags that the Bush White House oversold the case for war. It asserts that Iraq had an active chemical weapons program at one point, though it admits that the CIA had found no evidence of the program’s continuation. It repeatedly includes caveats like “credible evidence is limited.” It gives little space to the doubts of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which found the CIA’s findings on Iraq’s nuclear program unconvincing and “at best ambiguous.”

This isn’t the first time the report’s been released in full: A version was made public in 2004, but nearly all the text was redacted. Last year, transparency advocate John Greenwald successfully petitioned the CIA for a more complete version. Greenwald shared the document with Leopold.

The New Conventional War Will Be NUCLEAR (Rev 16)

Tactical Nuclear Weapons In Europe

tactical map

By The Danish Pugwash Group
20 March, 2015
Countercurrents.org
Abstract
The danger of nuclear war is very great today, especially because of the Ukraine crisis and the danger of accidents. We would like to suggest that, in exchange for withdrawal of U.S. Nuclear weapons from Europe, the Russian government might be persuaded to eliminate its tactical nuclear weapons directed against Europe.
The dangers are very great today
Let us first consider the urgent reasons why all nuclear weapons must be eliminated. Although the Cold War has ended, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is greater today than ever before. There are 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world today, of which 15,300 are in the hands of Russia and the United States. Several thousand of these weapons are on hair-trigger alert, meaning that whoever is in charge of them has only a few minutes to decide whether the signal indicating an attack is real, or an error. The most important single step in reducing the danger of a disaster would be to take all weapons off hair-trigger alert.
Bruce G. Blair, Brookings Institute, has remarked that “It is obvious that the rushed nature of the process, from warning to decision to action, risks causing a catastrophic mistake… This system is an accident waiting to happen.” Fred Ikle of the Rand Corporation has written,“But nobody can predict that the fatal accident or unauthorized act will never happen. Given the huge and far-flung missile forces, ready to be launched from land and sea on on both sides, the scope for disaster by accident is immense… In a matter of seconds, through technical accident or human failure, mutual deterrence might thus collapse.”
Although their number has been cut in half from its Cold War maximum, the total explosive power of today’s weapons is equivalent to roughly half a million Hiroshima bombs. To multiply the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by a factor of half a million changes the danger qualitatively. What is threatened today is the complete breakdown of human society.
Nuclear terrorism
There is no defense against nuclear terrorism. We must remember the remark of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan after the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. He said, “This time it was not a nuclear explosion”. The meaning of his remark is clear: If the world does not take strong steps to eliminate fissionable materials and nuclear weapons, it will only be a matter of time before they will be used in terrorist attacks on major cities. Neither terrorists nor organized criminals can be deterred by the threat of nuclear retaliation, since they have no territory against which such retaliation could be directed. They blend invisibly into the general population. Nor can a “missile defense system” prevent terrorists from using nuclear weapons, since the weapons can be brought into a port in any one of the hundreds of thousands of containers that enter on ships each year, a number far too large to be checked exhaustively.
As the number of nuclear weapon states grows larger, there is an increasing chance that a revolution will occur in one of them, putting nuclear weapons into the hands of terrorist groups or organized criminals. Today, for example, Pakistan’s less-than-stable government might be overthrown, and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might end in the hands of terrorists. The weapons might then be used to destroy one of the world’s large coastal cities, having been brought into the port by one of numerous container ships that dock every day. Such an event might trigger a large-scale nuclear conflagration.
The Ukraine crisis
Today, the world is facing a grave danger from the reckless behavior of the government of the United States, which recently arranged a coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine. Although Victoria Nuland’s December 13 2013 speech talks much about democracy, the people who carried out the coup in Kiev can hardly be said to be democracy’s best representatives. Many belong to the Svoboda Party, which had its roots in the Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU). The name was an intentional reference to the Nazi Party in Germany.
It seems to be the intention of the US to establish NATO bases in Ukraine, no doubt armed with nuclear weapons. In trying to imagine how the Russians feel about this, we might think of the US reaction when a fleet of ships sailed to Cuba in 1962, bringing Soviet nuclear weapons. In the confrontation that followed, the world was bought very close indeed to an all-destroying nuclear war. Does not Russia feel similarly threatened by the thought of hostile nuclear weapons on its very doorstep? Can we not learn from the past, and avoid the extremely high risks associated with the similar confrontation in Ukraine today?
Lessons from World War I: The danger of escalation
Since we have recently marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it is appropriate to view the crisis in Ukraine against the background of that catastrophic event, which still casts a dark shadow over the future of human civilization. We must learn the bitter lessons which World War I has to teach us, in order to avoid a repetition of the disaster.
Another lesson from the history of World War I comes from the fact that none of the people who started it had the slightest idea of what it would be like. Science and technology had changed the character of war. The politicians and military figures of the time ought to have known this, but they didn’t. They ought to have known it from the million casualties produced by the use of the breach-loading rifle in the American Civil War. They ought to have known it from the deadly effectiveness of the Maxim machine gun against the native populations of Africa, but the effects of the machine gun in a European war caught them by surprise.
Nuclear war: an ecological catastrophe
Few politicians or military figures today have any imaginative understanding of what a war with thermonuclear weapons would be like. Recent studies have shown that in a nuclear war, the smoke from firestorms in burning cities would rise to the stratosphere where it would remain for a decade, spreading throughout the world, blocking sunlight, blocking the hydrological cycle and destroying the ozone layer. The effect on global agriculture would be devastating, and the billion people who are chronically undernourished today would be at risk. Furthermore, the tragedies of Chernobyl and Fukushima remind us that a nuclear war would make large areas of the world permanently uninhabitable because of radioactive contamination. A full-scale thermonuclear war would be the ultimate ecological catastrophe. It would destroy human civilization and much of the biosphere.
One can gain a small idea of the terrible ecological consequences of a nuclear war by thinking of the radioactive contamination that has made large areas near to Chernobyl and Fukushima uninhabitable, or the testing of hydrogen bombs in the Pacific, which continues to cause leukemia and birth defects in the Marshall Islands more than half a century later.
The illegality of NATO
In recent years, participation in NATO has made European countries accomplices in US efforts to achieve global hegemony by means of military force, in violation of international law, and especially in violation of the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Principles.
Former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans Christof von Sponeck used the following words to express his opinion that NATO now violates the UN Charter and international law: “In the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, the Charter of the United Nations was declared to be NATO’s legally binding framework. However, the United-Nations monopoly of the use of force, especially as specified in Article 51 of the Charter, was no longer accepted according to the 1999 NATO doctrine. NATO’s territorial scope, until then limited to the Euro-Atlantic region, was expanded by its members to include the whole world”
Article 2 of the UN Charter requires that “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” This requirement is somewhat qualified by Article 51, which says that “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”
Thus, in general, war is illegal under the UN Charter. Self-defense against an armed attack is permitted, but only for a limited time, until the Security Council has had time to act. The United Nations Charter does not permit the threat or use of force in preemptive wars, or to produce regime changes, or for so-called “democratization”, or for the domination of regions that are rich in oil. NATO must not be a party to the threat or use of force for such illegal purposes.
In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously affirmed “the principles of international law recognized by the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the judgment of the Tribunal”. The General Assembly also established an International Law Commission to formalize the Nuremberg Principles. The result was a list that included Principles VI, which is particularly important in the context of the illegality of NATO:
Principle VI: The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
a Crimes against peace: (I) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (I).
Robert H. Jackson, who was the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, said that “To initiate a war of aggression is therefore not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Article VI of the NPT requires states possessing nuclear weapon to get rid of them within a reasonable period of time. This article is violated by fact that NATO policy is guided by a Strategic Concept, which visualizes the continued use of nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.’
The principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapons has been an extremely important safeguard over the years, but it is violated by present NATO policy, which permits the first-use of nuclear weapons in a wide variety of circumstances.
Russian tactical nuclear weapons
Russian nuclear weapons, both tactical and strategic, also represent a grave danger to human civilization and to the biosphere. We would like to suggest that a bargain might be reached. In exchange for the withdrawal of US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, as well as the lifting of the present European sanctions directed against the Russian economy, it might be possible to persuade the Russian government to eliminate all of their tactical nuclear weapons directed against Europe.
Establishment opinion shifts towards nuclear abolition
The complete elimination of nuclear weapons is by no means a hopeless cause. While the Ukraine crisis is a great step backwards, there are indications that the establishment is moving towards the point of view that the peace movement has always held: – that nuclear weapons are essentially genocidal, illegal and unworthy of civilization; and that they must be completely abolished as quickly as possible. There is a rapidly-growing global consensus that a nuclear-weapon-free world can and must be achieved in the very near future.
One of the first indications of the change was the famous Wall Street Journal article by Schultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn advocating complete abolition of nuclear arms. This was followed quickly by Mikhail Gorbachev’s supporting article, published in the same journal, and a statement by distinguished Italian statesmen. Meanwhile, in October 2007, the Hoover Institution had arranged a symposium entitled “Reykjavik Revisited; Steps Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons”.
In Britain, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Lord Hurd and Lord Owen (all former Foreign Secretaries) joined the former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson as authors of an article in The Times advocating complete abolition of nuclear weapons . The UK’s Secretary of State for Defense, Des Brown, speaking at a disarmament conference in Geneva, proposed that the UK “host a technical conference of P5 nuclear laboratories on the verification of nuclear disarmament before the next NPT Review Conference in 2010” to enable the nuclear weapon states to work together on technical issues.
In February, 2008, the Government of Norway hosted an international conference on “Achieving the Vision of a World Free of Nuclear Weapons”. A week later, Norway’s Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, reported the results of the conference to a disarmament meeting in Geneva. On
July 11, 2008 , speaking at a Pugwash Conference in Canada, Norway’s Defense Minister, Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, reiterated her country’s strong support for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons .
In July 2008, Barack Obama said in his Berlin speech, “It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.” Later that year, in September, Vladimir Putin said, “Had I been told just two or three years ago I wouldn’t believe that it would be possible, but I believe that it is now quite possible to liberate humanity from nuclear weapons…”
Other highly-placed statesmen added their voices to the growing consensus: Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, visited the Peace Museum at Hiroshima, where he made a strong speech advocating nuclear abolition. He later set up an International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament co-chaired by Australia and Japan. On January 9, 2009, four distinguished German statesmen (Richard von Weizäcker, Helmut Schmidt, Egon Bahr and Hans-Dietrich Genscher) published an article entitled “Towards a Nuclear-Free World: a German View” in the International Herald Tribune.
Going to zero
On December 8-9, 2008, approximately 100 international leaders met in Paris to launch the Global Zero Campaign . They included Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, Norway’s former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, former UK Foreign Secretaries Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Margaret Beckett and David Owen, Ireland’s former Prime Minister Mary Robinson, UK philanthropist Sir Richard Branson, former UN Under-Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala, and Nobel Peace Prize winners President Jimmy Carter, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prof. Muhammad Yunus. The concrete steps advocated by Global Zero include:
• Deep reductions to Russian-US arsenals, which comprise 96% of the world’s nuclear weapons.
• Russia and the United States, joined by other nuclear weapons states, cutting arsenals to zero in phased and verified reductions.
• Establishing verification systems and international management of the fuel cycle to prevent future development of nuclear weapons.
The Global Zero website contains a report on a new public opinion poll covering 21 nations, including all of the nuclear weapons states.The poll showed that public opinion overwhelmingly favors an international agreement for eliminating all nuclear weapons according to a timetable. It was specified that the agreement would include monitoring. The average in all countries of the percent favoring such an agreement was 76%. A few results of special interest mentioned in the report are Russia 69%; the United States, 77%; China, 83%; France, 86%, and Great Britain, 81%.
On April 24, 2009, the European Parliament recommended complete nuclear disarmament by 2020. An amendment introducing the “Model Nuclear Weapons Convention” and the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol” as concrete tools to achieve a nuclear weapons free world by 2020 was approved with a majority of 177 votes against 130. The Nuclear Weapons Convention is analogous to the conventions that have successfully banned chemical and biological weapons.
More recently, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon initiated a comprehensive 5-point program for complete nuclear disarmament, and in December, 2014, Austria hosted the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. At the conference, the Austrian government issued an extremely strong statement in which they pledged to work for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. More than 50 governments have already signed statements endorsing the Austrian pledge.
Long-term goals
Both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the 1996 decision of the International Court of Justice require all nuclear weapons states to rid themselves completely of their nuclear weapons. In response to questions put to it by WHO and the UN General Assembly, the IJC ruled that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and particularly the principles and rules of humanitarian law.” In addition, the Court added unanimously that “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict international control.” Article VI of the NPT also requires signatories of the treaty to completely eliminate their nuclear weapons.
It is a life-or-death question. We can see this most clearly when we look far ahead. Suppose that each year there is a certain finite chance of a nuclear catastrophe, let us say 2 percent. Then in a century the chance of survival will be 13.5 percent, and in two centuries, 1.8 percent, in three centuries, 0.25 percent, in 4 centuries, there would only be a 0.034 percent chance of survival and so on. Over many centuries, the chance of survival would shrink almost to zero. Thus by looking at the long-term future, we can clearly see that if nuclear weapons are not entirely eliminated, civilization will not survive.
Civil society must make its will felt. A thermonuclear war today would be not only genocidal but also omnicidal. It would kill people of all ages, babies, children, young people, mothers, fathers and grandparents, without any regard whatever for guilt or innocence. Such a war would be the ultimate ecological catastrophe, destroying not only human civilization but also much of the biosphere. Each of us has a duty to work with dedication to prevent it.
The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats. It was founded in 1957 by Joseph Rotblat and Bertrand Russell in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, following the release of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955. Rotblat and the Pugwash Conference won jointly the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 for their efforts on nuclear disarmament

Nuclear Regional Conflict In Asia Inevitable (Rev 16)

Nuclear holocaust

 Nuclear Holocaust
Rizwan Asghar
Friday, March 20, 2015
From Print Edition
 
Let there be no doubt that the nuclear establishments of Pakistan and India are on the verge of a nuclear holocaust. Both countries have been following the strategy of ‘mutual assured destruction’ (MAD) since the advent of the nuclear age in South Asia. However, India’s development of its nuclear delivery capabilities over the past decade is playing a critical and destabilising role by triggering a nuclear arms race in the region.

India’s growing conventional military superiority, coupled with the so-called ‘cold-start’ doctrine, has forced Pakistan’s nuclear establishment to rely more on its nuclear capabilities and less on conventional military capability. In fact, there is a lot of speculation that the Modi government in India might decide to alter the country’s 1998 no-first-use doctrine. The speculations are based on the BJP’s pledge to “revise and update” India’s nuclear doctrine.

Before 1998, India did all it could to deny the international community forewarning of nuclear tests and even at this moment there is little reason to believe that the current government in India sticks to its inherently contradictory doctrine of ‘credible minimum deterrence’. Some nuclear advocates in Pakistan also point out India’s investment in missile defence, indicating India’s interest in perpetuating military hegemony in the region.

Achieving ‘credible minimum deterrence’ towards both of its primary strategic adversaries, China and Pakistan, means substantially different levels of capability. What is credible towards China will not be minimum toward Pakistan, and what is minimum towards Pakistan cannot be credible toward China. The probability of a major war with China is not very high so India’s nuclear posture should be framed keeping in view its primary deterrent adversary which is Pakistan and against whom they initially wanted to build a credible minimum deterrent.

In addition, China is so advanced in nuclear capability that perhaps India will never be able to match China’s nuclear arsenal or delivery capability. But the prevailing attitudes toward nuclear weaponry among Indian nuclear security managers betray an over-obsession with China. Such attitudes will achieve nothing and start an unending nuclear arms race in South Asia. India’s conventional superiority could easily deter Pakistan from any attack against India, so India’s nuclear capability never had a ‘strategic’ justification but was a desire for ‘prestige’.

India’s irresponsible and recklessly dangerous provocations are forcing Pakistan to respond in ways that are detrimental to regional peace. Pakistan’s nuclear establishment is also heading down a costly and dangerous path, basing its nuclear doctrine on the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s nuclear security managers seem to be totally ignorant of the fact that by amassing more tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) Pakistan might not be able to deter any conventional attack by India but is definitely moving away from minimum credible deterrence posture to full-spectrum deterrence posture.

TNWs, as opposed to strategic nuclear weapons, are aimed at ‘counter force targets’ and their deployment is much more convenient than that of strategic nuclear weapons.

However, there is no strong evidence to suggest that these tactical weapons are really necessary for minimal, credible deterrence. The small size of TNWs add little to deterrence and only the threat of ‘massive nuclear retaliation’ can stop India from launching limited conventional strikes.

If India is not deterred from nuclear attack by 100 plus warheads, it is difficult to understand how a few tactical weapons will make any difference. The Indian armed forces have also repeatedly warned that the Indian nuclear doctrine makes no distinction between tactical and strategic weapons. Even a limited Pakistani nuclear attack would be met with massive nuclear retaliation.

The truth is that Pakistani nuclear experts have rarely, if ever, tried to examine the utility of developing battlefield nuclear weapons. In actuality, the deployment of TNWs is detrimental to deterrence stability in the region, making the unauthorised use of nuclear weapons more probable.
The idea of developing battlefield nuclear weapons seems to be an ‘overreaction’ to an impractical cold-start strategy. Many western analysts are afraid that the continuing expansion of India and Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities increases the chance of any small conflict escalating into a full-blown nuclear war in South Asia. Because some non-strategic nuclear weapons are deployed against conventional forces in the battlefield, they enhance the risk of such escalation.

For almost a decade after the 1998 nuclear tests, Pakistan’s nuclear establishment aimed to have only enough weapons for maintaining a ‘credible minimum deterrent’ because we could not waste massive resources to engage in a nuclear arms race with India. However, during the past five years, the nuclear security managers have forgotten the aim of maintaining a ‘modest’ nuclear arsenal.

It is so far unclear if Pakistan will use short-range nuclear weapons to annihilate advancing Indian troops near our big cities. Such an attack would turn Pakistan’s densely populated agricultural heartland into a nuclear wasteland and also cause serious radiation damage to other parts of the country. This was a major reason why the idea of employing these weapons against any Soviet advance was eventually abandoned by Nato countries.

The fact is that the atomic bomb, in fact, cannot be effectively used as a tactical weapon. The current approach of our nuclear establishment assumes that if thousands of Indian troops move into Pakistani territory, we can use these weapons against them without killing our own citizens.

It is generally impossible to forecast the initiation and conditions that could prevail in any such conflict between Pakistan and India. It could involve varying attack intensities and timing, and with different objectives, all of which would increase the danger of the outbreak of a large-scale nuclear conflagration. Nuclear tipped missiles may suffer mechanical failure or deflection in flight, allowing for the possibility of missiles falling within one’s own territory.

Email: rizwanasghar5@unm.edu

Why Pakistan Is The Third Nuclear Horn (Dan 8:8)

Pakistan’s Nuclear programme prone to security risks: US Report

Pakistani+terrorism
NEW DELHI: A report on Pakistan’s tactical nuclear programme by a prominent Washington-based think tank raises questions on the country’s ability to secure warheads even in peacetime, concluding that the introduction of mini nuclear weapons in the subcontinent has substantially increased the risk of a confrontation with India getting out of hand.

The report comes even as Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division (SPD) that oversees its nuclear programme has admitted to having fired several people with “negative tendencies”. Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper has quoted  Brig Tahir Raza Naqvi as saying that those sacked were “incorrigible” and could have affected national security. The US report titled ‘Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Operational Myths and Realities’ has, however, raised the larger question of the implication of battlefield nuclear weapons in the subcontinent. Unlike strategic warheads that are capable of obliterating a large landmass, tactical nuclear weapons like the Nasr missile that Pakistan has introduced are aimed as battlefield weapons directed against troops or armoured formations.

The Pakistani logic is that nuclear weapons can be used in a battlefield without collateral civilian damage and that would make them more “acceptable” than a strike on a major city or power centre. The report by the  Stimson Center says that the “presence of tactical nuclear weapons will naturally result in increased pressure on both India and Pakistan to escalate during any future crisis”.

For India, Pakistan’s tactical programme spells a double whammy. The current Indian doctrine calls for a massive retaliation in case of a nuclear strike on home territory. However, dealing with a limited nuclear strike on a troop formation with a massive and debilitating strike across the border with possible high civilian loss could be difficult to justify, even though India has reiterated that it will not differentiate between a strategic or tactical nuclear weapon.

The larger worry, though, is over the security of the tactical nuclear warheads, which, by their very nature are to be deployed on the battlefield where the risk of a breach is higher. “Pakistan might also reconsider the practical and operational risks and challenges with regard to tactical nuclear weapons, particularly the difference in risk profiles between a small number of systems and widespread numbers readied for deployment,” the Stimson report notes.

Even Korea Is Threatening Babylon (Rev 17)

North Korea ready to strike US with nuclear missile ‘anytime

north-korea-missile
North Korea has said it would use nuclear weapons as a retaliatory measure (REUTERS/Jason Lee)
North Korean officials have claimed the secretive regime has the capability of launching a nuclear missile at “anytime”, a development that if confirmed could have worrying implication for global security.
It has been widely known that the Hermit Kingdom is able to build nuclear weapons, but it is unclear whether it also possesses the technology to miniaturise warheads and mount them on ballistic missiles.

Now, Pyongyang’s envoy to London has claimed it does. Ambassador Hyun Hak-bong told Sky News the North Korean army is “ready for nuclear war”.

“We are prepared,” he said. “That is why I say if a sparkle of a fire is made on the Korean peninsula, it will lead to a nuclear war.”

Asked if North Korea has the ability to fire a nuclear missile, Hyun replied: “Anytime, anytime, yes.”
“If the United States strikes us we should strike back,” he added.

The claim came as the US and South Korea are staging annual joint drills that regularly anger Pyongyang.

The “Key Resolve/Foal Eagle” exercises, the world’s largest joint military drill, begun earlier this month and are due to continue until 24 April, involving thousands of troops.

The drills were welcomed with a heated editorial by North Korea’s ruling party mouthpiece newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, which called the exercises an example of Washington’s “vicious hostile policy”.

“Nuclear war is not a game. If the US thinks it can survive and win a nuclear war, it will be a delusion of an idiot,” the paper wrote.

In the Sky interview, ambassador Hyun however said North Korea would not “press the button first” but use nuclear weapons only as a retaliatory measure.

“We are peace-loving people. We do not want war. But we are not afraid of war,” he said.

In February, a US research institute predicted that North Korea could build as many as 100 nuclear weapons in the next five years.

The US special representative for North Korea Policy, Sung Kim, said that the US government was “deeply concerned” about North Korea’s growing nuclear might, following the report by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

“Obviously we are deeply concerned about the fact that the North Koreans are continuing to advance their nuclear capabilities; we know that they are continuing to work on their nuclear programme,” Kim told Reuters.

The report describes a “worst case scenario” in which Kim Jong-un’s despotic government is able to build 100 nuclear warheads by 2020, with the country’s current nuclear stockpile believed to consist of about 16 nuclear missiles.

The report suggested Pyongyang has succeeded in miniaturising nuclear warheads, and its missiles are able to reach South Korea and Japan, while it is developing a longer range model capable of striking the US.