North Korea said on Saturday that nearly 3.5 million workers, party members and soldiers volunteered to join or rejoin its army to resist new U.N. sanctions and to fight against the United States in the current geopolitical tension between Pyongyang and Washington.

Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s official newspaper, said the volunteers had offered to join or rejoin the People’s Army after the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) issued a statement on Monday condemning new sanctions imposed by the United Nations in retaliation for North Korean missile tests.

With North Korea and America both refusing to blink first in the ongoing crisis, despot Kim Jong-un may actually be spoiling for war with the most powerful country on earth.

An article in a Pyongyang-based propaganda newspaper declares already more than 3.5 million people had signed up to fight.

The propaganda rag claimed these millions were “volunteers” and included students and former soldiers – although the truth is likely to be far more grim.

North Korea newspaper The piece said: “All the people are rising up across the country to retaliate against the US thousands of times. In North Hwanghae Province, 89,000 young men pleaded to enlist or reenlist on August 9 alone.

“In Daedong County of South Pyongan Province, more than 20,000 students, party members and labourers filed enlistment or reenlistment requests.”

It comes as the war of words moved another step closer to all-out conflict after US president Donald Trump said America was “locked and loaded” for battle.

And Japan has moved missiles and defence systems to its major cities in preparation for a missile attack.

Hiroshima, Shimane and Kochi are particularly at risk as any North Korea missile fired at the US territory of Guam would pass directly overhead.

While Pyongyang said any missile would be aimed to miss the island and merely used to send a warning, any malfunction of the missile over Japan could put hundreds of thousands of people at risk – and given North Korea’s patchy success record in missile launches, this is a major threat.

Earlier this week, nuclear-armed North Korea threatened to strike the United States and its Pacific territory of Guam.

KCNA said on Wednesday a mass rally was held in Pyongyang to support the government. North Korea has previously mobilized large crowds to show its resolve when tensions escalate.

In August 2015, 1 million North Koreans offered to enlist or re-enlist in the army when a mine exploded in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, raising additional tensions.

North Korea warned foreign diplomats to leave Pyongyang in 2013 when it suspended work at a joint inter-Korean industrial park and threatened missile strikes on U.S. Pacific bases, notably in Guam and Hawaii.

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