“The question is whether or not the United States as a superpower wants to escalate this thing to a world war that could be nuclear, or whether sensible diplomacy is going to prevail. The ball is not in the North Korean court, it’s in the US court,” said Jeff Steinberg with the Executive Intelligence Review weekly in an interview with Press TV on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, North Korea announced, “As of now, inter-Korea relations enter a state of war and all matters between the two Koreas will be handled according to wartime protocol.”
Pyongyang also warned that any military provocation near the North-South land or sea border would lead to “a full-scale conflict and a nuclear war.”
Steinberg put the blame on Washington and the West for further fueling North Korea’s provocations, saying, “We could end this whole game but the danger is that you could escalate it into a confrontation that does get out of control.”
He added that North Korea’s bellicose statements should not be taken seriously since Pyongyang only wants to move beyond the Armistice situation, where the Korean war is still at a ceasefire point and has not yet ended.
“And if you look at the history in the Middle East of the countries that were accused of going for or having nuclear weapons but never really intended to and never got them, they were subjected to completely illegal regime change, [and] military action,” the analyst added.
On March 28, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US is “prepared to deal with any eventuality” from North Korea and that Washington takes Pyongyang’s threats very seriously.
South Korean and US forces completed an annual war game codenamed ‘Key Resolve’ on March 21, a move which drew widespread condemnation from North Korea.
The United Nations also approved a fresh round of sanctions against Pyongyang following its nuclear test in February, a move that added to Pyongyang’s escalating rhetoric against Washington and Seoul.