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Richardson: North Korean attack on US would be 'suicidal'

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said Thursday that if North Korea launches a threatened military strike against the United States, it would be a "suicidal" decision for Pyongyang.

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“There’s been a lot of rhetoric and not a lot of action ... but I think our response has been appropriate: Cool, calm and at the same time putting our military resources ready in case there’s an emergency,” Richardson told CNN. “But if they try anything with the United States, it’s suicidal. That’s not going to happen.”

Richardson visited North Korea with Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt earlier this year to press leaders there over a detained American citizen and Internet openness. 

On the trip, which was not sanctioned by the State Department, the pair lobbied North Korean officials to stop missile launches and nuclear tests.

On Thursday, Richardson again advocated diplomacy to ease tensions in the region.

“Something is needed to cool things down,” said Richardson. “I think there has to be an end game to the administration’s policy, and the end game in my view is diplomacy — some kind of special envoy, some kind of South Korean diplomat.”

In a statement published by a state news agency on Wednesday, North Korea warned that it would respond to American provocations with "cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means."

"The merciless operation of (our) revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified," the statement continued, adding that the United States "had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation."

The White House said such provocations would only further damage relations with the rest of the international community.

"It’s important to say that, in every instance, this refusal to abide by its international obligations and to engage in threats and provocative rhetoric and behavior only serves to isolate North Korea further, to make it more and more difficult for the North Korean economy to develop, and imposes more and more hardships on the North Korean people," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.