After a series of threats made by North Korea vowing to attack U.S. bases in the Pacific and to invade South Korea, the state-owned KCNA news agency has announced that the volatile nation will restart all nuclear facilities for both electricity and military uses.
The agency reports that the restart, which includes bringing a nuclear reactor that has been dormant since 2007 back online, is being done so that the country will have nuclear weapons to ensure its safety.
This announcement comes as the number of U.S. forces in the region has increased because of the latest round of threats. North Korea is believed to be years away from having nuclear weapons, but it did conduct its third nuclear test in February, according to Reuters.
In a speech on Sunday, North's young leader Kim Jong Un seemed to downplay the chances of a direct conflict with the United States.
"Our nuclear strength is a reliable war deterrent and a guarantee to protect our sovereignty," Kim said. "It is on the basis of a strong nuclear strength that peace and prosperity can exist and so can the happiness of people's lives."
Kim's speech was given to the central committee meeting of the ruling Workers Party of Korea.
Even though Kim is making it sound like he wants nuclear capabilities to enhance his country’s safety - as opposed to having nuclear weapons to attack others - the nuclear restart will probably only increase tensions in the area.
"It's yet another escalation in this ongoing crisis," said Ramesh Thakur, the director of the Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament at Australian National University in Canberra. "It's just a very murky situation. The danger is that we can misread one another and end up with a conflict that no one wants."