(CNN) - Rep. Peter King, former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday that the recent provocative, warmongering rhetoric out of North Korea is no “empty threat.”
He qualified that by explaining he does not fear the North launching a successful attack on the U.S. mainland, but is concerned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “is trying to establish himself … trying to be the tough guy,” and may “box himself in” and need to display some level of military might.
“My concern would be that he may feel to save face he has to launch some sort of attack on South Korea, or some base in the Pacific,” King, R-New York, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
North Korea has ratcheted up its rhetoric in recent weeks, declaring the armistice keeping the peace between it and the South to be null, distributing a photo with a “plan for the strategic forces to target mainland U.S.,” and on Saturday announcing it was entering a “state of war” with its neighbor.
Despite that and posts on the country’s state-run news agency blaring headlines such as “Nuclear War to Be Conducted on Korean Peninsula,” a U.S. official said late Friday, “We have no indications at this point that it’s anything more than warmongering rhetoric.”
“It’s sort of like an organized crime family running a territory,” King said. “He’s brutal, his father is brutal, his grandfather was brutal.”