Their most recent bout of saber-rattling delusions of grandeur finally quieted back down earlier this year for a relatively quiet summer on the North Korean front, but Pyongyang seems incorrigibly determined to keep itself in the firing line of international humiliation and economic sanctioning. This week, the Norks put their army on “high alert” and announced that they are ready to flex their “powerful military muscles” if the United States goes ahead with with joint naval exercises near their ‘hood. Do you really want to go there again, North Korea?

A spokesman for the North’s military warned the United States of “disastrous consequences” for moving a group of ships, including an aircraft carrier, into a South Korean port.

“In this connection, the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command to re-examine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations anytime,” the spokesman said, referring to the Korean People’s Army (KPA).

“The U.S. will be wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster to be met by its imperialist aggression forces’ nuclear strike means,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

South Korea’s Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said later on Tuesday there was no indication of unusual activity by the North’s military. …

“We’ve seen this type of rhetoric from North Korea before,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “Such comments from North Korea will do nothing to end (its) isolation or reduce the costs (it) pays for defying the international community.”

This is all pretty routine by now: The North Koreans get their knickers in a twist over some allied military exercise in the region, then vent their relatively impotent rage by making some vague and farcical threats of military retaliation. The Norks have, however, followed through with their threat to restart an old nuclear reactor, which means renewed possibilities for them to export nuclear materials and technologies to other states and eventually improve their own capabilities, via the NYT:

South Korea’s main intelligence agency confirmed on Tuesday that North Korea has restarted a Soviet-era nuclear reactor that has been used to obtain plutonium for bombs, according to South Korean legislators.

Nuclear experts in the United States, including at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, reported last month that satellite photographs indicated that North Korea had restarted the five-megawatt reactor at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, the capital. …

Until the North shut the reactor down in 2007 in a short-lived nuclear disarmament deal with the United States, the reactor’s spent fuel was the country’s source of plutonium fuel for weapons. American intelligense officials estimate that the North, which conducted three underground nuclear tests between 2006 and February of this year, secured enough plutonium from reprocessing the spent fuel to build as many as a dozen bombs.

The country has also said it is running a program that can provide it with another type of bomb fuel: highly enriched uranium.

It’s something to keep an eye on, although the most ridiculous part of this latest display of bellicosity is how closely it coincides with Pyongyang’s current endeavor to build a showy, glitzy ski resort (in an impoverished country with a 0.02 percent skiing population) and their subsequent realization that they have no friends from which they can purchase ski lifts. You mad, North Korea?

The North Korean government labeled Switzerland’s refusal to sell it ski lifts for a new luxury ski resort “a human rights abuse.” Characterized in the press as another childish tantrum by Kim Jong Un, the belligerent reaction may nevertheless be indicative of what kind of sanctions may really hurt North Korea’s ruling elite.

“This is an intolerable mockery of the social system and the people of the DPRK and a serious human rights abuse that politicizes sports and discriminates against the Koreans,” KCNA, North Korea’s official news outlet, stated in a release. …

The Swiss government blocked the deal, however, invoking UN sanctions banning the sale of luxury goods to North Korea following underground nuclear tests conducted by the Hermit Kingdom on February 12.