On March 8, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea’s official name) issued a statement threatening nuclear war against the United States and South Korea if either country fires “even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK.”

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“The Korean People’s Army will reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people’s happiness in case the U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK,” the statement read.

North Korea blamed America for the rising tension in the region, and said that the recent actions taken by the United States  are “undisguised nuclear war racket.”

The statement was released before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trip to Asia, where he said that if North Korea elevated the “threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action then that option is on the table.”

“Let me be very clear — the policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson added. “We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures. All options are on the table.”

Following a recent missile test by North Korea, the United States immediately began deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system as well as Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) attack drones in South Korea. Plans to deploy THAAD have become controversial as China, Russia and North Korea have voiced their opposition to the system’s placement, which they see as a threat to their national security. China believes THAAD’s advanced radar system could be used to spy on their country.

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