Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - Page 1 News List

North Korea warns of nuclear strike if provoked as US warships approach

Reuters, SEOUL

US Marines participate in a joint defense exercise against a possible attack from North Korea in Pohang, 360km southeast of Seoul, South Korea, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

North Korean state media yesterday warned of a nuclear attack on the US at any sign of a US pre-emptive strike as a US Navy strike group led by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier steamed toward the western Pacific.

Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean Peninsula with talk of military action by the US gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria and amid concerns the North might soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.

North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun said the nation was prepared to respond to any aggression by the US.

“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases, not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater, but also in the US mainland,” it said.

Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn warned of “greater provocations” by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring and to ensure close communication with the US.

“It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries, including the Supreme People’s Assembly,” Hwang said.

The North yesterday convened a Supreme People’s Assembly session, one of its twice-yearly sessions in which major appointments are announced and national policy goals are formally approved, but South Korean officials took pains to quell talk on social media of an impending security crisis or outbreak of war.

“We’d like to ask precaution so as not to get blinded by exaggerated assessment about the security situation on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korean Ministry of National Defense spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said.

Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the North’s founding father and the grandfather of leader Kim Jong-un.

A military parade is expected in Pyongyang to mark the day.

North Korea often also marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities in breach of UN Security Council resolutions.

The North’s foreign ministry, in a statement carried by its Korean Central News Agency said the US Navy strike group’s approach showed the US’ “reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase.”

“We never beg for peace, but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves,” an unidentified ministry spokesman said.

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