Sat, Jun 07, 2003 - Page 5 News List

North Korea accuses US of planning pre-emptive strike

JOINT DEFENSE Pyongyang says an US$11 billion plan to boost the war capability of the `the US imperialists' and South Korea smells like preparations for an attack


South Korean children play on US anti-aircraft guns used during 1950 to 1953 Korean War at a war museum in Seoul on the country's Memorial Day, yesterday.


North Korea yesterday attacked US plans to spend billions on defense enhancements on the Korean peninsula, charging Washington was preparing for a pre-emptive strike against the communist nation.

In an editorial in the government mouthpiece Minju Joson, the isolated Stalinist state called the US arms build-up part of "preparations for a pre-emptive attack" on the North.

The US last week announced an US$11 billion plan over four years to boost the war capability of the US and South Korea, and has already this year deployed 24 long-range B-52 and B-1 bombers to the western Pacific island of Guam to bring them within striking range of North Korea in case of hostilities.

Six F-117A Stealth fighter-bombers have also been deployed in South Korea since March.

Paul Wolfowitz, the number two at the US Defense Department, said in Tokyo last week that Washington would reposition US troops to take them out of range of North Korean artillery.

"The US imperialists have already worked out a scenario for a pre-emptive attack in a bid to implement their war strategy against the DPRK [North Korea]," the daily said.

Among the 150 "enhancements to the combined defense" cited this week by General Leon Laporte, the US commander in South Korea, were Patriot missile defenses to protect South Korea against North Korea's estimated 600 Scud missiles.

A light-armored Stryker brigade that could be rapidly airlifted by C-17s to reinforce the Korean peninsula in a crisis and high-speed vessels that could swiftly ferry Marine reinforcements from Okinawa were also mentioned.

North Korea called the Stryker brigade an elite force tasked to mount a surprise attack on the North and said deploying such a force "would mean a completion of the US imperialists' preparations for a war of aggression against the DPRK and this would increase the danger of a war in the DPRK."

"The DPRK maintains a full combat readiness to cope with the US imperialists' moves of aggression. It will strongly retaliate against them should they ignite a new war," Minju Joson said.

Tensions sparked by North Korea's admission in October last year that it was pursuing a nuclear program despite a 1994 accord to freeze it has prompted a build-up in the US military presence on the Korean peninsula.

Most of the 37,000 troops deployed along the tense inter-Korean border will be moved to "hub" bases south of the Han River, beyond the range of North Korean military, marking one of the biggest realignments of forces since the Korean War.

"We have now drawn up a broad picture on how to redeploy US bases here," said Lieutenant-General Cha Young-koo of South Korea, though a timetable for their redeployment had yet to be firmed.

South Korea had opposed the redeployment of the US forces south of the Han River as they have served as a trip wire near the border since the end of the 1950 to 1953 Korean War to ensure an invasion from the North would immediately draw the US into the conflict.

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