The announced nuclear test in February came a few weeks after the Security Council had voted unanimously for a resolution in favor of tightening sanctions on North Korea for launching a three-stage rocket in December.
At this point, no one is claiming that North Korea actually has any nuclear warheads, or any actual capacity to deliver one anywhere.
But North Korean [DPRK] bristling continued on April 4, as an unnamed army official suggested that:
""the moment of explosion is approaching fast. No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow". The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK's sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic."
Anonymous U.S. Official Wonders About U.S. Over-reacting
The same day, at the Pentagon, an unnamed Defense Department official, took a look in the mirror and referred to U.S. bellicosity about its own military actions, saying:
"We accused the North Koreans of amping things up, now we are worried we did the same thing". We are trying to turn the volume down. We are absolutely trying to ratchet back the rhetoric. We become part of the cycle. We allowed that to happen."
In South Korea, which would likely suffer most from an outbreak of hostilities, one observer there considered the North Korea news reporting "all hype." Adam Hogue graduated from Keene State College in New Hampshire in 2011 and has been living and working in South Korea ever since. On April 2, he wrote:
"There is a need to create a culture of panic in the United States and, arguably, everywhere else where the major media conglomerates have established news outlets".
"As I have heard from my mother, father, sister, friends, the New York Times, CNN and NPR, North Korea is suddenly big news. They are now something to fear. They are something threatening, mysterious and suddenly worthy of all the news headlines in the western-world. There is an urgent message being told that now is a time to panic and react".
"But, that message is not coming from my co-workers at school or from the Korean news or from my neighbors; it is a message from the media."
American Paranoid Policy Heightened since 9-11
So it seems, in answer to the paranoia question at the beginning of this piece: the U.S. appears to have a comfortable lead in maintaining delusions of being threatened.
While the threats to North Korea are real and existential, that doesn't preclude some paranoia at the same time: consider the suggestion that the 2010 torpedo-sinking of a South Korean ship -- blamed on North Korea and raising war fears -- was actually a false flag operation by the Israeli navy using a state-of-the-art German submarine [Israel has a small fleet, armed with nuclear-warhead missiles].
On January 29, 2002, in his first State of the Union address, President George Bush declared that North Korea was part of "an axis of evil" along with Iraq and Iran -- nations that, while not an axis in the usual sense, got grouped by President Bush's belief that they were all developing weapons of mass destruction with which "to threaten the peace of the world."
Still searching for those weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. has now offered to sell South Korea 60 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth bombers at a discount price of $180 million per plane. If the North Koreans are paying attention, they will not feel immediately threatened by this possible sale of a plane that is at least five years from being operational and still struggling in its test phase.