WASHINGTON - The United States said it was “fully capable” of defending itself against any North Korean ballistic missile strike, after Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear attack.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the US military could deal with any such attack and repeated earlier warnings that North Korea would gain nothing by threats and provocations. “Now that the US is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, revolutionary armed forces... will exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors,” a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).