If This Stock Doubles, Thank North Korea

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When I was growing up, my Dad used to tell me that "things never get as bad as you think they could."

But he also always counseled me to never take a risky situation for granted, and to always be prepared. 

With the flurry of menacing threats coming out of North Korea lately, I'd call that timely advice these days.

Of course, bellicose rhetoric from the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK) is really nothing new. Pyongyang has repeatedly threatened to strike at "the heart" of the United States. And a propaganda poster that's popular in that country shows a shredded American flag and an exploding Capitol Hill dome being struck by additional North Korean missiles.

But I have to tell you, the threats all took on an entirely different tone last week as the U.N. Security Council pushed for brawny sanctions.  The hyper-militant North Korea actually threatened to launch a "pre-emptive" nuclear strike against the United States - and anyone else it views as an "aggressor."

In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a North Korea foreign ministry spokesman said "now that the U.S. is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, (our) revolutionary armed forces... will exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors."

To top it all off, that spokesman also warned that a second Korean War was now "unavoidable."

Here's why you should be more than a little bit concerned...

The DPRK recently conducted its third nuclear test, and used a long-range missile to put a satellite into orbit.

Seismic activity from North Korea's Feb. 12 nuclear test suggested a device of six to seven kilotons - an advance over the tests of 2006 and 2009, but only 40% of the strength of the 16-kiloton "Little Boy" bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

But a recent report by The Economist says that Pyongyang's claim that the blast came from a "smaller and lighter" bomb made a lot of folks around the world very nervous.

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