North Korea cut a hotline with South Korea on on Wednesday and told the United Nations that conditions were ripe for a "simmering nuclear war" on the peninsula.
"Upon authorization of the Foreign Ministry, the DPRK [North Korea] openly informs the U.N. Security Council that the Korean Peninsula now has the conditions for a simmering nuclear war," a statement read. "This is because of [provocative] moves by the U.S. and South Korean puppets."
The North unplugged the hotline with its arch rival after cutting another earlier this month. Wednesday's announcement means the North will sever the link used to operate Kaesong, an industrial complex run jointly between the two countries as part of a nascent effort to foster cooperation.
The harsh rhetoric is barely a half-octave above what has become daily fare emanating from Pyongyang in recent weeks. It comes at a time when both Pyongyang and Seoul have untested leaders.
Writing in Foreign Policy, David Kang, a professor of international relations and business at the University of Southern California, and Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies warn:
"North Korea has a penchant for testing new South Korean presidents. A new one was just inaugurated in February, and since 1992, the North has welcomed these five new leaders by disturbing the peace. Whether in the form of missile launches, submarine incursions or naval clashes, these North Korean provocations were met by each newly elected South Korean president with patience rather than pique."