SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - North Korea is vowing to launch a nuclear strike against the United States after the United Nations votes for stronger sanctions against the rogue nation.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed more stringent sanctions against North Korea after a rocket launch in December and a nuclear test last month. Now, North Korea is firing back, but as of now it's just with words.
The new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is promising nuclear warfare against the U.S. but UCSB political science professor Benjamin Cohen told NewsChannel 3 it's nothing but a bluff.
"A nuclear attack on the United States has a probability of a snowball in hell. North Korea doesn't have the capability to put a nuclear weapon on a long range missile and be able to aim it accurately," said Cohen.
That same sentiment is being felt at military bases. Vandenberg Air Force Base is still working under "normal operations" despite the hot air from North Korea.
Cohen said even though the north can't pull it off, they're trying to grab headlines and see how the new South Korean leadership reacts.
"This is an opportune time. It's just two weeks after her inauguration. It's a situation where the timing is good for the North Koreans to test how much resolve she will have," explained Cohen.
The United Nations' resolution was drafted by both the United States and China. Even the Chinese government, which has supported North Korea, expressed "strong dissatisfaction" over last month's nuclear test.
"Taken together, these sanctions will bite and bite hard. They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community," said Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.
Experts believe North Korea has about 12 nuclear weapons. But Cohen isn't worried about a conflict here at home, his concern comes from what might happen at the north and south border.
"Skirmish at the border, shooting at a South Korean airplane or South Korean naval vessel. This is the kind of thing they've done in the past," he said.
The sanctions include banking and travel restrictions for North Korea's elite and should add significant pressure to the country. But whether or not it will change North Korea's behavior is unknown.