White House brushes off North Korea’s nuclear threat

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday brushed aside North Korea’s threat of a preemptive nuclear attack against the United States.

"The United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean missile attack," Carney said Thursday, adding that North Korea will "achieve nothing by threats and provocations."

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved new sanctions against North Korea in response to the country’s nuclear test last month. The country will face new penalties limiting banking, traveling, and trade in an effort to increase pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

Earlier Thursday, North Korean officials told a state news agency that the nation would consider a "preemptive" nuclear strike against the U.S. and said they no longer acknowledge the 1953 armistice agreement that effectively ended the Korean War.

“Now that the U.S. is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country,” a spokesman of the North Korean Foreign Ministry told the Korean Central News Agency, in a translation provided by the New York Times.

North Korea has previously asserted a right to a preemptive strike, but never before threatened a preemptive nuclear attack. The new aggression is thought to be partially a result of China — a traditional ally of the North Korean regime — agreeing to back the new sanctions.

Earlier Thursday, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice warned North Korea had a "choice" about whether to consider to pursue a nuclear program.

“The new UN resolution increases North Korea isolation and raises the cost to their leaders for defying the international community," Rice posted to her Twitter account. "The strength, breadth & severity of the DPRK sanctions will make it much more difficult for them to pursue their WMD & missile programs."

Carney added Thursday that the "strength, breadth and severity of the sanctions show" that the international community is united against North Korea's nuclear testing.