Fri, Aug 14, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Pyongyang threatens to strike White House, Seoul

AFP, SEOUL

Veterans burn placards of the North Korean flag and its leader Kim Jong-un during a protest in Paju, South Korea, yesterday denouncing a recent landmine attack at a military checkpoint near the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas.

Photo: AFP

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.

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