North Korea yesterday condemned a looming South Korea-US joint military exercise as a “declaration of war” and boasted of its ability to make retaliatory strikes against Seoul and the White House.
The annual two-week “Ulchi Freedom” exercise, which begins on Monday, involves tens of thousands of troops in what is a largely computer-simulated rehearsal for a North Korean invasion.
It is one of a number of annual joint drills that Washington and Seoul insist are purely defensive in nature, but which Pyongyang condemns as provocative rehearsals for a full-scale attack on it.
This year’s Ulchi Freedom comes at a time of particularly high tensions, following a recent landmine attack on a South Korean border patrol that Seoul blamed on North Korea.
The North’s foreign ministry insisted that the drill should be called off immediately and warned Washington it would be responsible for “all the consequences” if it went ahead.
Pyongyang will take “all necessary measures” in the face of US “nuclear provocations,” a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency.
A separate statement by the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea denounced Ulchi Freedom as a “drill for a surprise nuclear war” against the North.
“Such large-scale joint military exercises ... are little short of a declaration of a war,” the statement said, warning of the potential for an accidental military clash that could trigger an “all-out” conflict.
Echoing a threat it has made repeatedly in the past, the committee said South Korea and the US should be aware that their “strongholds of aggression and provocation” — including the White House and presidential Blue House in Seoul — were in range of the North’s “ultra-precision” military weapons.
Pyongyang has yet to react to the charge that it was responsible for the recent mine attack in the South, but Seoul has already responded by resuming high-decibel propaganda broadcasts across the border, using batteries of loudspeakers that had lain silent for more than a decade.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete