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US Capitol in flames? North Korea dreams of nuclear strike

An image taken from a North Korean propaganda website Monday appears to show the U.S. Capitol -- wrongly identified as the White House -- being hit by a missile.
An image taken from a North Korean propaganda website Monday appears to show the U.S. Capitol -- wrongly identified as the White House -- being hit by a missile.Yonhap via EPA

An image of the U.S. Capitol being hit by an explosion has been posted on a North Korean propaganda website.

The video, published by the semi-official Uriminzokkiri agency and posted on its YouTube account, at first shows still images of North Korean artillery, missiles and soldiers.

It then moves on to film of numerous missiles being fired, before showing what appears to be a gun sight zeroing in on the White House and then the U.S. Capitol.

"The White House is caught in the panoramic sight of a (North Korean) long-range missile. This hotbed of war is in the scope of a nuclear bomb blow," a caption on the video says, according to a translation by the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

An explosion hits the dome of the Capitol building, leaving a gaping hole. The four-minute film then continues with yet more images of rockets being fired.

A video showing an American city that looked like New York engulfed in flames after a missile attack was posted on the same website last month.

It was part of a dream sequence in which a photographer circles the earth in a fictional North Korea space shuttle. It was accompanied by an instrumental version of the song “We are the World.”

"Black smoke is seen somewhere in America," text that accompanied the video said. "It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze with the fire it started."

'Petulant child'

Tension has been high on the Korean Peninsula since the North carried out a rocket test in December and then a nuclear bomb test in February.

It also took the opportunity to threaten South Korea with “final destruction” during a United Nations Conference on Disarmament last month.

And then on March 9, the North threatened to exercise its “right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack" as new sanctions were unanimously agreed by the United Nations Security Council.

Heather Williams, a research fellow at the U.K.’s Chatham House website, said North Korea was “almost like a petulant child,” constantly wanting to remind people of its existence by acting out.

She said images like the Capitol and New York explosions fitted the theme of previous propaganda from Pyongyang, but added “at the same time, it’s a more serious situation than we have seen in quite a while.”

“It is a reminder of the situation and that things could escalate,” she said.

Williams said Kim Jong Un was a “young, new leader” who still needed to “prove himself” to the country’s powerful military.

“My take is that it is overwhelmingly bluster for domestic reasons, not international ones,” she said.

Last week, Director of National Intelligence  James Clapper told Congress he was "very concerned" about North Korea's recent rhetoric as well as the rocket and nuclear bomb tests, The Associated Press reported.

"These programs demonstrate North Korea's commitment to develop long-range missile technology that could pose a direct threat to the United States, and its efforts to produce and market ballistic missiles raise broader regional and global security concerns," Clapper told the Senate Intelligence committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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